New Clause 14 - Parish councils: power to set up local energy schemes

Part of Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 9 February 2006.

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Photo of Gregory Barker Gregory Barker Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 2:45, 9 February 2006

I am grateful for the Minister’s comments about new clause 15. There is undoubtedly no difference between us in the intention here. It is simply about the practical implementation of the law on the ground. As is patently obvious, I am not a lawyer and the Minister has recourse to the advice of a great many experts. I am grateful for his acknowledgment that there is a real problem in implementation.

It may be that it is simply a misunderstanding for which the solution could be a robust restating of the statutory position. If we can solve the problem, even if it is only a small one, without recourse to primary legislation, that is a good thing. I am all in favour of not using the law when it is not necessary. If the Minister could write to the Committee once he has had a chance to confer with the ODPM, that would be very welcome and would help to reassure us that this will not simply be one of those issues that starts with good intentions, but loses momentum as the Committee   disappears. Having made the point and found agreement across the Committee, I do not intend to press new clause 15.

I was greatly heartened by the Minister’s comments about new clause 14. If he and his officials have thoughts on how the provisions to empower those 10,000 parish and town councils may be better drafted, I will welcome that. As a champion of localism, I recognise that the effort to bring all those local committees into the battle against climate change will be much easier if it has the authority of a Government-drafted amendment rather than an Opposition amendment. In the interest of consensus and constructive cross-party politics, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.