Energy Bill [HL] - Commons Amendments

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:15 pm on 12th April 2016.

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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 8:15 pm, 12th April 2016

My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have participated in the debate on the carbon accounting process and in particular the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, who I know feels strongly about this issue. She will know that we have spoken about it at some length and probably have a measure of agreement on many of the principles. I will perhaps not go into the details of why we are not able to move forward in some respects, although we feel that her amendment as drafted, requiring regulations on carbon accounting by the end of 2017, is impractical because of the understandable obligations to consult with the devolved Administrations and so on. There are issues with the detail. I will not go into other aspects of it, except to say that we certainly recognise the need to address some of these concerns. There are other issues with carbon accounting that distort, as things stand, such as international aviation and international marine.

Let me address some of the points made by my noble friend Lord Howell. I do not want to get sidetracked on to steel because that issue was addressed yesterday in a Statement. Electricity costs are certainly an issue and a factor, but of course it goes far beyond that, as I am sure that my noble friend would acknowledge. Tata in Port Talbot has a blast furnace, so the electricity costs are less significant there than they would be if it were an arc furnace, which is one of the issues to be looked at. The Government are looking at that in the round to see what we can do there, but again it is not simple. It is not just about altering the carbon accounting rules, as there are issues obviously about state aid, the World Trade Organization and so on. It is a complex issue. I hope that I have been able to cover why we are unable to accept the amendments to the Motion at this time.