Report (2nd Day)

Part of Energy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 8th March 2011.

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Photo of Lord Deben Lord Deben Conservative 7:00 pm, 8th March 2011

My Lords, I hesitated to break into my old mentor's speech, but I want to agree with him and to say to the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, that in his speech he proved why this is impossible. In this amendment, the Office for National Statistics is supposed to publish all this in an easily assimilable form. Your Lordships' House might suggest that after listening to the noble Lord, Lord Lea, it is quite difficult to feel that it would be easy to produce an easily assimilable form.

The second thing I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Lea, is very important. It is always true that the poorer you are, the more heavily any imposition weighs upon you. It is not new to say that a particular sum is heavier on somebody who has a small income than on somebody who has a large income. That is why it is very important in the way in which we deal with these matters to see that it falls as lightly as possible on those who are least able to bear it. To spend a great deal of time producing this material in a form that I fear will not be easily assimilable and will probably not be read by the very people for whom it is intended does not help this issue. This issue is that in everything the Government do, in everything the coalition do, they have to seek to do it in a way that is as equable as possible. I say to your Lordships that we are already placing huge responsibilities upon the system of government, and to add to those this very detailed, extremely expensive and, I have to say, probably not used collection of new statistics without any real indication that it is going to be of any practical value is unnecessary not only at this stage of the Bill but at any stage of the Bill.

Finally, the thing we should be concentrating upon is enabling individuals to influence their spending. That is what matters, not what the Office for National Statistics says. Individuals should be able to see how much energy they are using, how they can best prevent that energy being used, how they can opt-in to the Green Deal and how they can make their lives more comfortable and happier. That is what we should be concentrating on. We should be moving away from this determination constantly and centrally to mull over, reproduce, redo, represent and reargue all these cases and get down to the real issue. How does Mrs Jones do something about her own energy use? How does she make her home more energy efficient? How does she know when she is using that energy? How is she able to take advantage of lower tariffs by, for example, doing her washing at a time that is not a peak time? All those things demand the fast installation of smart meters. I hope they will not be prescriptive but will merely say what they are supposed to do rather than how they do it. I hear some rather unnerving information from the ministry that sounds as though it wants to be terribly detailed about it. I hope it is not going to be like that. That is what we should be emphasising: helping individuals to make choices that benefit them rather than providing a lot of statistics that I suggest will be read by nobody. If they will be read by nobody, they will do nobody any good.