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Housing Energy Efficiency

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:12 am on 30th March 2000.

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Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour 11:12 am, 30th March 2000

As always, Lloyd Quinan is accurate on no occasion. I am referring to the improvement and repairs grant system to target houses in private ownership—where most of the larger-scale problems in Scotland are. When we analyse where the most fuel-poor households are, we realise why they are targeted under the warm deal.

We recognise the role that local authorities can play in targeting fuel poverty. That is why we have announced another increase in the allocation of grant for that. I can assure Lloyd Quinan that we want to bring forward the evaluation and assessment of the tolerable standard so that Parliament can discuss the matter. I can give a commitment to do that in the near future.

Sarah Boyack recently published for consultation a programme of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The changes to the improvement and repairs grant system will help that process. We also intend to amend the building regulations to require any new build to meet more demanding standards for energy efficiency than ever before. I hope that that will address many of the issues that Robin Harper raised.

Robin Harper's motion urges the Executive to require home energy audits at time of sale. We agree with the principle of sellers' surveys, and the "Partnership for Scotland" and "Making it work together" documents both indicate that such a system will develop. We think that that can be dealt with through the market, but we will watch how the market develops before deciding whether legislation is needed.

I commend the local authorities that have engaged in good practice under the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995, particularly City of Edinburgh Council, which has done pioneering work. We expect local authorities to work together. That is why we support the HECA officers network. We are examining the local authorities' first progress reports and will publish a report for Parliament later this year, which will assess their progress. We will also issue further guidance in the summer. I hope that all authorities will have a designated HECA officer. I cannot direct them to do so, but I can encourage them. I hope also that they will work with other independent bodies, such as the fuel companies, which are crucial to addressing the issue of fuel poverty.

Robin Harper's motion calls for a champion of home energy efficiency. I think that the Parliament should be that champion and I believe that the Executive is committed to ensuring that it is.

The policies that I have outlined today represent some of the steps that we are taking to tackle fuel poverty and meet climate change goals. We share the aspirations of every member of this Parliament in tackling something that has been ignored for too long: the condition of fuel-poor households in Scotland. I have outlined the progress that has been made in the Executive's attempts to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland over two sessions.

I move amendment S1M-707.1, to leave out from "calls upon" to end and insert:

"commends the Executive for its Healthy Homes Initiative as pledged in the Partnership for Scotland and the Programme for Government; commends the Warm Deal; welcomes the investment in improving Scotland's housing; welcomes the Executive's agreement in principle to the introduction of sellers' surveys, including an energy efficiency assessment; notes favourably the proposals for reforming the Improvement Grant system and amending the Building Regulations to require higher standards of energy efficiency, and recognises that these initiatives show the Executive's firm commitment to tackling fuel poverty and its effects and meeting climate change objectives."