Energy Bill [HL] — Second Reading

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

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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

I am coming to that; I had not forgotten. I think the noble Lord has also tabled a Question for Written Answer on this and I hope he has had a response because I have it here, although I will not read it out. I think he will be reassured that we believe there is sufficient cover at the moment. The Government will continue to monitor the insurance market for capacity in this area and to encourage insurers to enter the nuclear insurance market. I offer the noble Lord my apologies if the response has not yet arrived, but it is certainly on its way to him.

On contracts for difference, raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, the noble Lords, Lord Whitty, Lord Oxburgh, and others, I have indicated that we will be announcing our approach. Of course it is important that we look at the totality of the position on renewables; I totally agree with that.

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, raised issues around the automotive industry. He is absolutely right to say that there is a massive opportunity for the United Kingdom in this area. We are working across government on this with the Department for Transport and there is a certain urgency. It is an important issue and it would be great to see British industry have an edge in the area.

The security of the national grid was raised by noble Lords. That was one of the first visits I made, and obviously there are connections with other countries such as Norway and France. I think security of supply is in place.

The Competition and Markets Authority was touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, in relation to switching. He will be aware that we are currently studying, and will soon be responding to, the preliminary findings of the Competition and Markets Authority, which had a default mechanism in those preliminary findings for those people who do not switch and are on an expensive tariff. They are put into a default mechanism tariff, which will be better for them. I hope he is reassured by that. The noble Lord also raised the issue of smart grids, which are very important. We are looking at them as part of the smart energy programme.

Finally, I turn to the East Ayrshire coalfield. We are aware of the issues, as the noble Lord indicated, and at the moment the Treasury is looking at the Hargreaves and Banks proposals he mentioned. We will come back to him on that; it certainly has not been forgotten.