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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

No. I will not get into a party dispute on this matter. The Parliament could initiate a task force under the leadership of somebody suitable in the field, which could focus on the issue, identify the costs, deal with the priorities and arrive at a consensus around which Parliament and the Executive could move forward. There is a will in the Parliament and the Executive for that to happen. I hope that the minister will consider such an approach.

I know that much good work is being done behind the scenes and that the warm deal has advanced things. I know that there is a problem over the amount of money that can be drawn in from fixed budgets. We need to make every penny count. A cross-cutting approach is very important. We have had experience of leasing arrangements with the fuel companies, which allow the installation of new central heating equipment without capital input by the Executive or local authorities. It is worth while to develop such arrangements as much as possible.

When I was a councillor, there was something called the estate rate heating addition, which I think no longer exists. It was a significant weekly payment that allowed people on income support who had inefficient heating systems to heat their houses. The result was that, instead of tackling the problem, we fed the symptom. There must be many examples of that elsewhere.

This matter is urgent and requires action now, not tomorrow. There is consensus in the Parliament that there should be such action. I hope that the Executive will respond positively to the many good suggestions that have emerged from this debate.