My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, for bringing several aspects of these regulations to our attention—not least the comments from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee.
Of course, as the Minister said, the Prime Minister, in one of her first speeches, made many comments on social justice, but I fear that these regulations were written before she made that speech and perhaps there has not been a chance to assimilate the new spirit that she wants to introduce. As I understand it—perhaps the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—the regulations contain several things that are less than desirable, one of which is that they cover only the next two years, whereas in last year’s spending review there was a guarantee that the scheme would carry on until 2021.
On the larger picture, it is very depressing that the long-term strategy of reducing bills through energy efficiency—particularly measures that came in under the coalition Government, such as the zero-carbon homes measure—have been put on hold and we have seen this Government back-track, not least in the recent Housing and Planning Bill. Therefore, we have a big problem. The fact that people are in severe fuel poverty and are unable to heat their homes during the winter is, as has been said many times in this Chamber, one of the biggest disgraces for a civilised society.
The funding for the years after 2018 will be based on the number of customers who have benefited from rebates. What do the Government intend to do to promote the scheme to people who can benefit from it, making sure that they do not miss out?
Finally, the Explanatory Memorandum says that the Secretary of State can conduct a review if it is thought desirable. Perhaps the Minister can say a little more about under what circumstances it will be desirable. She mentioned that there would be another opportunity for noble Lords to comment, but we feel very strongly that this review needs to happen so that we are quite clear about the effect of the regulations and so that we have another chance to push for something better.