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Housing Energy Efficiency

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:03 pm on 30th March 2000.

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Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat 12:03 pm, 30th March 2000

I apologise to the first two speakers in the debate for not being present to hear them. Unfortunately, I had an appointment with destiny with the dentist. I will read the speeches with interest later.

This has been a good debate. Robin Harper, who initiated it, is to be congratulated on its content. Robin is becoming something of an expert on this topic and has been very generous in sharing the information that he has acquired with the rest of us who have an interest in it.

I want to try to summarise the issues. The standard of new buildings is a key issue, but it is self-defined to some degree. More significant in the short term is the situation with regard to existing houses—houses that have not been built to standard and that do not have proper insulation. It is in such houses that the poorer sections of the population tend to be concentrated.

I detect this morning that there is a growing sense of authority in the chamber about the way forward. Fiona Hyslop talked about taking party politics out of the issue and Euan Robson talked about growing cross-party concern. This chamber speaks with authority when it says that, although the Executive has done a lot of good work and there has been significant progress through initiatives such as the warm deal, there is a large, desperate and urgent problem to be tackled. It will redound greatly to the credit of the Parliament and the Executive if we make a significant impact on the curse of fuel poverty in the first parliamentary session.

This is a policy area in which we can achieve a range of good things. We can deal to an extent with global warming. We can help people in poverty. We can help to reduce costs of output. We can contribute to tackling the health problems that have been mentioned in this debate.

I wonder whether there is potential for a Cubie-style report on existing housing. Regardless of the background politics, Cubie did a very good job in identifying and presenting information and options.