Report (2nd Day)

Part of Energy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 8th March 2011.

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Photo of Lord Jenkin of Roding Lord Jenkin of Roding Conservative 6:45 pm, 8th March 2011

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, has adumbrated a number of very important issues. I do not dispute that for a moment. It was not altogether easy to follow all the details, but there is no doubt that we have been moving through a consumer revolution in how energy is priced and sold, and the impact of that on the population at large. There are clearly attractions to the noble Lord's proposal. He mentioned the new green economy council. I, too, have studied the proposals for that and welcome that initiative. We look forward to seeing what comes from that. I am not sure how far that differs from the forum that he proposes in the last paragraph of his amendment.

The noble Lord's amendment goes very wide. It covers not just prices but taxes and the whole question of the impact on different sections of the community. There is a need for more clarity on this. I cite just two examples. In case some noble Lords feel that they are being singled out, I shall not mention any names. I find it absurd that people can in two successive amendments or speeches demand that this or that renewable should be supported by the renewables obligation certificate-which, as we all know, is fed straight through the supplier companies and falls on to the bills of consumers-and then in the next amendment set up a great cry of woe because of the impact that this will have on the fuel poor. Some people do not seem to have been adding those two things together and realising that there must be some conflict between them: to ask for more subsidy and say that they are very sorry that it will put the price up.

I agree totally with the noble Lord that there is a need for more public understanding of what this is all about. I give another example very briefly. When the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change made an extremely important Statement last October heralding electricity market reform-the noble Lord referred to that in his speech-he drew on the paper published by the department last July entitled Estimated Impacts of Energy and Climate Change Policies on Energy Prices and Bills. At least, I think he was drawing on that. However, there was a freedom of information appeal to the department reported in the Times this January. The headline read:

"Energy shake-up will lift electricity bills to £1,000 in 20 years".

That may be a massive exaggeration; I do not know, but there are great uncertainties in all this. That seems to be what the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, is seeking to identify and to provide a process whereby there can be more public understanding. I am sure that we would all applaud that.

The noble Lord proposes to add a major measure, or series of measures, to this Bill, which is quite specific. The Energy Bill is primarily dealing with the Green Deal.