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Energy Efficiency

Volume 461: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

The parliamentary estate has an energy and waste saving policy which is due for review later this year and can take on board any comments that the hon. Lady and anybody else might wish to make. The current energy efficiency target is to make a 15 per cent. reduction in energy consumption per square metre of building floor area by 2010-11, relative to the base year 1999-2000.

Would the Commission consider the use of wind, solar and water power as ways to source its energy needs through microgeneration, on the basis that the House should lead by example in the fight against climate change?

I can assure the hon. Lady that the Commission is well seized of the need for the House to lead by example, and I can further assure her that some of those options are being explored even at this moment. We have had meetings with representatives of the microgeneration industries and we are exploring the practicalities of pursuing any of those options.

I am delighted that the hon. Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Mrs. Hodgson) has raised this issue. The waste of energy in this building is appalling. Anybody who has walked its corridors at night knows that it is like the Mary Celeste—all the lights on and nobody here. In May, when it was hot, the heating was on. Can the hon. Gentleman please assure us that there will be a proper investigation of the matter, and that we will develop modern techniques of switching off lights when there is nobody in the building? They operate on infra-red, I understand, and I think we could do it pretty easily for not very much money.

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that such devices have existed in parts of the estate, notably in Portcullis House, where there were many complaints from hon. Members working late in the evening that they were plunged into darkness sitting at their desks because they had not moved sufficiently to trigger the infra-red light sensors. However, the hon. Gentleman makes a good point. There is a significant problem of energy waste. A variety of high-tech methods of dealing with that have been explored and, where appropriate, they will be fitted, but as I have said on previous occasions, nothing beats the responsibility of hon. Members and other users of the estate for turning off lights when they leave the room.

Although I appreciate the points that the hon. Gentleman has made, does he agree that it is ridiculous that the annunciator screens are left on when the House is not sitting? Not just overnight during a parliamentary Session but during the long summer recess of 10 weeks, one can come into the Palace and see all along the corridors screens saying, “House adjourned”.

I am happy to investigate the hon. Lady’s point. However, as I have said, the annunciator service into Members’ offices can be turned off by individual Members, and indeed should be.