Energy Bill [HL] — Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:37 pm on 22nd July 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales 2:37 pm, 22nd July 2015

Noble Lords will understand that I am approaching this constructively. I am not going for the party knockabout, so let us leave that for another occasion. I am trying to be constructive and explain how we can take this forward.

The noble Lord quite rightly raised a point on public interest and national security grounds; perhaps I may get back to him on that with examples. The two go together. The national security point will be fairly evident, the public interest one perhaps less so. Thinking on my feet, it could involve something like piracy, but that word has connotations of the old type of pirate. However, it could mean someone taking over one of these installations, which, while it might not represent a threat to national security, may demand urgent action in the public interest by the Secretary of State. It could be something like that, and I will certainly write to the noble Lord with more precise information.

As I understand it, coming back to the announcements on solar made this morning, we do not need primary legislation for any action that is taken consequent on that consultation, and therefore I do not think that we will need to amend this legislation. If I am wrong about that, I will write to noble Lords, but I think it can be achieved through secondary legislation.

I shall move on to the miscellaneous points, although that is not to say in any way that the issues are not important. A regular theme of the debate was energy efficiency. It was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, and the noble Lords, Lord Oxburgh, Lord Teverson, Lord Judd and Lord Foulkes, among others. It is a vital issue and a lot is already happening that does not demand legislation from us now. I refer to the smart meter programme, the delivery of which in 2020 will make a massive difference. Since April 2010, we have delivered the installation of more than 1.5 million measures such as boilers, insulation and so on which have made a material difference. That links to another area of responsibility, namely fuel poverty. We are currently looking at how to ensure that our fuel poverty measures are more closely allied to improvements in energy efficiency than perhaps they have been in the past. That is something we are looking at and it is certainly important.

On nuclear, a matter raised by my noble friend Lord Howell and touched on by the noble Lord, Lord O’Neill, and others, we are expecting the contract to be concluded at the end of the year. I think my right honourable friend the Secretary of State mentioned this yesterday to the Select Committee in the House of Commons. We are certainly looking at small nuclear, as I think I have indicated previously; it is important. Progress is being made on Wylfa and I discussed it again yesterday with the devolved Administration in Wales. Those matters are progressing. I think I have dealt with carbon storage.