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Green Energy (Definition and Promotion Bill) (Money)

Volume 494: debated on Wednesday 17 June 2009

Queen’s recommendation signified.

I beg to move,

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Green Energy (Definition and Promotion) Bill, it is expedient to authorise—

(1) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any expenditure incurred by virtue of the Act by the Secretary of State, and

(2) the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable under any other Act out of that Fund.

The motion concerns the private Member’s Bill promoted by the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth)—[Interruption.]

Order. May I ask that Members who are leaving the Chamber do so quickly and quietly?

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on choosing for his Bill such an important subject as green energy, and particularly on his focus on improving the take-up of microgeneration measures. I also congratulate him on securing such a broad and cross-party coalition of support for his Bill. On Second Reading, the previous Minister with responsibility for energy, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O’Brien), welcomed the Bill on behalf of the Government. In his speech, he said that the Government support the key principles underpinning the Bill. The House approved the Bill’s Second Reading, and it therefore proceeded into Committee.

The Government see the Bill as a valuable opportunity to promote microgeneration through the definition of “green energy”.

I warmly welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new responsibilities. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] He will hear that the whole House echoes that welcome.

I also greatly welcome the Bill. On microgeneration, has the hon. Gentleman given any further thought to the definition of hydropower, which is still an outstanding issue? The Bill is a potential vehicle to put right an anomaly that is preventing people from investing in micro-hydropower. During his very short time in the Department, has he given any thought to rectifying that anomaly?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He will know that the Bill is about micro wind turbines and air source heat pumps. It requires the Secretary of State to undertake consultation about the future of the microgeneration strategy, so I commend to the hon. Gentleman the idea of his taking part in that consultation and making his valuable point. The matter is in my mind as I speak.

There remain a number of barriers to the continued deployment of small-scale renewable and low-carbon energy sources, hence the Government’s review of the strategy. The Bill will be a useful means of helping to implement that strategy once the review is completed. It sets a strategic framework within which we can remove barriers and continue the development of a crucial market. For example, the Government are keen to ensure that we are in the best possible position to capitalise on the introduction of the forthcoming financial incentive regimes for both renewable heat and small-scale low-carbon electricity.

Work to strengthen the Bill and fit it into the strategy is ongoing, and I look forward to its completion in Committee. However, I assure hon. Members that in considering that work, the Government do not intend to change the main thrust or sentiment of the Bill, which is the promotion of green energy. We very much support that.

The motion before the House is the usual money resolution for a private Member’s Bill that may create a charge on public funds. The Bill does not directly give rise to additional expenditure. However, the House’s approval is required to accommodate any costs that may arise from the further development of the microgeneration strategy. The details of that strategy, including any expenditure, will be the subject of public consultation in line with requirements in the Bill.

I hope that hon. Members agree that it is therefore necessary and desirable for the House to approve the money resolution. Any reliance on it for spending public money will be in accordance with a strategy that will have been approved following public consultation. There is no immediate commitment of public spending, and there will be ample opportunity to comment on the development of future policy. I therefore commend the motion to the House.

We on the Conservative Benches warmly welcome the fact that the Government support the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth). We have a clear vision of a distributed energy economy, and microgeneration will be essential to that. My hon. Friend has a formidable record of promoting pragmatic green causes such as this, and we look forward to the Bill making its swift and positive way through Committee.

I join others in welcoming the Bill and congratulating the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth) on promoting it. It can be very important in accelerating the development of renewable energy, particularly microgeneration. The Minister is right that it enjoys broad cross-party support in the House. The fact that the Government support it is welcome. Occasionally, Private Members’ Bills have to be watered down to enjoy Government support, but I am pleased to say that my assessment is that that is not the case with this Bill. I know that that is also the assessment of the hon. Member for East Surrey. The Government have accepted all the important principles of the Bill and the key measures in it.

May I correct the Minister on one small matter? I do not believe that the Bill just relates to wind turbines and air source heat pumps. It has a much broader spread, and issues relating to micro-hydropower, which my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) raised, are quite important. Certainly we can happily discuss them in Committee. We on these Benches wish the Bill well, and we would like the resolution to be passed without opposition.

I thank the Minister for moving the motion, and I welcome him to his new responsibilities. He has an honourable track record on green issues, so it is good to see him in his post. I hope that he will have much influence on Government thinking on these matters. I also thank other hon. Members for their kind words.

There has been no attempt to water down the provisions that I am seeking to introduce. Speaking of water, I am afraid that there is a problem with introducing measures on micro-hydropower into the Bill. However, I hope very much to work with the Government and Liberal Democrat Members to put that problem right in another way at another time. I have no doubt that we will return to the matter during the Committee stage.

Question put and agreed to.