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Community Insulation Programme

Volume 164: debated on Monday 18 December 1989

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9.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement about the community insulation programme.

24.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what action is being taken to assist low-income households with home insulation.

My right hon. Friend announced recently his intention to take powers for a proposed new scheme of insulation grants for low-incomes households.

Is the Minister aware that expenditure on loft insulation and pipe insulation has fallen from £32·6 million to £9·6 million this year? Is he also aware that as a result of Government cuts resources have fallen by 15 to 20 per cent? In view of that, how can he uphold the Government's intention stated in 1983 that Britain would become the most efficient energy-saving nation in Europe by 1990? With only three weeks to go, how can he manage that?

With regard to the hon. Gentleman's first point, the decrease has come about in part because people are not moving house at the rate that they were a year ago. In terms of general efficiency measures, if the hon. Gentleman examines the facts he will realise that the efforts of the Energy Efficiency Office over the years have been very successful. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there are still significant gains to be made. The nation still spends about £40 billion per year on energy. The current estimate is that we could save up to 20 per cent. of that, which would amount to some £8,000 million. I agree with the general drive of what the hon. Gentleman said.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you disallow question No. 24 for oral answer?

No. For many years it has been the practice that questions up to No. 25 can be linked.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the new scheme to be introduced will improve access for low-income households, along the lines of the scheme under which 700,000 have been assisted since 1982?

As my hon. Friend said, some 700,000 low-income households have benefited from the old scheme. I expect that when we have worked out the details of the new scheme, considerable numbers—an increase on the present level—will benefit from that scheme as well.