Report (2nd Day)

Part of Energy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 21st October 2015.

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Photo of Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Labour 4:45 pm, 21st October 2015

My Lords, I have been wondering during the entire consideration of this debate why there has been such undue haste. This is a very important technical measure, yet great suggestions put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, and others that we might have pre-legislative scrutiny and bring some experts together to look at aspects of it have all been cast aside. This is being rushed and pushed through because of some ideological desire which the party opposite seems to have.

The Minister mentioned the manifesto again and again in his speech. I notice, because I was just checking earlier on, that Norman Smith of the BBC has been saying that this is another area where the Lords might challenge the Government on something in their manifesto, and the Salisbury convention is being held up and waved at us.

I therefore took the elementary step of going back, as my noble friend did and mentioned earlier, to what is included in the Conservative manifesto. Do all noble Lords opposite know exactly what was included? I wonder if they really do. It said:

“Onshore wind … makes a meaningful contribution to our energy mix and has been part of the necessary increase in renewable capacity”.

That is a very positive statement. It continues:

“Onshore windfarms often fail to win public support, however”— well, if they do not get public support, and are not supported by the local planning authority, they do not go ahead—

“and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires”.

No one is suggesting that “by themselves” they provide a firm capacity for a stable energy system—they contribute towards a diverse energy capacity. It goes on:

“As a result, we will end any new public subsidy for them”— as my noble friend said—

“and change the law so that local people have the final say on windfarm applications”,

which I agree with. But is it a new public subsidy? I argue that it is not. It is a public subsidy which we all knew about and which the investors understood was going to continue until the end of October 2017. It is not new. Presumably it was budgeted for by the right honourable Chancellor of the Exchequer. Presumably it was all taken account of in the department’s budget and the department knew that it was happening, so it is not a new public subsidy. The Conservative manifesto is quite clear and our amendment to remove Clause 66 does not in any way go against it.