Clause 41 - Further provision about domestic energy efficiency regulations: England and Wales

Energy Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 14th June 2011.

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Question proposed,That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Shadow Minister (Energy and Climate Change)

I reiterate the point that I made about the previous clause. Without clause 41, the Bill will not allow local authorities to do any work in default. If there is an absentee landlord who is abroad, it will be very difficult for the local authority to step in and make the energy efficiency improvements necessary, charge for them, and pass on that charge to landlords. If the local authority chooses to impose a fine, it is more likely to be passed on to tenants. Rather than energy efficiency improvements being made, tenants could see an increase in their rent. We are concerned that removing the clause will make it difficult for local authorities to enforce the Bill. The Minister said that the clause was clunky; we do not think so. Local authorities need the tools at their disposal to ensure that they can enforce the law. Removing clause 41 removes the opportunity for local authorities to do that.

Photo of Graham Jones Graham Jones Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons)

The Minister referred to taking powers away from local authorities. Will the Minister clarify who will police the scheme if the clause is removed? Tenants will be able to go to a tribunal, and the local authority will be able to take civil court action, which may lead to a fine of up to £5,000, but there is a move away from local authorities. Local authority environmental health officers currently police category 1 hazards under the housing health and safety rating scheme. That pretty much dovetails with the F and G category in the green deal, so there could be duplication if that is moved away from the local authority. It seems obvious to me that responsibility for policing the scheme must sit with local authorities, as they already have experience of the housing health and safety rating scheme, through environmental health officers. Will the Minister clarify those points?

Photo of Gregory Barker Gregory Barker The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

I am afraid that that boils down to the same point. As with the previous clause, we believe that we have made provision for minimum standards and so do not require the additional points. Where possible, we are trying to regulate with a light touch. We are mindful of each additional regulation creating a burden or expense, so we will not support the clause.

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 11.

Division number 6 Decision Time — Clause 41 - Further provision about domestic energy efficiency regulations: England and Wales

Aye: 8 MPs

No: 11 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 41 disagreed to.