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Housing (Energy Efficiency)

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 8 April 2010

1. What recent steps his Department has taken to improve the energy efficiency of housing; and if he will make a statement. (325604)

Since 2002, the carbon emission reduction target has helped fund over 7 million insulation measures. We recently published a household energy management strategy for pay-as-you-save insulation, devolution of powers over energy efficiency to local authorities and new standards of regulation in the social and private rented sector that together will help reduce emissions from households by 29 per cent. by 2020.

Such a Government initiative has been of great benefit to New Addington in Croydon, a significant social housing estate that was excellent for the 1950s in terms of space and good design. What can be done to support the initiative of local people who want the area to become an eco-town? What prospects are there?

The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing recently announced the first wave of eco-towns and funding under that. We want to do more on this. There is great enthusiasm in local areas for this to happen, including in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency. I hope that we can take this forward.

Mr. Greg Barker. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman had indicated that he wanted to come in on this question.

I had not expected to, Mr. Speaker. I apologise for my inattention, as I had been expecting to intervene on Question 2. However, at your direction, I shall intervene on Question 1 because what I want to say is still apposite.

After 13 years of Labour government, we still have the most energy-inefficient homes in Europe and many, many millions more homes require action. Will the Government now embrace our green deal, namely £6,500 of energy-efficiency improvements for every home? Or, given that B&Q, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and leading energy companies have all embraced our approach, is this another issue where Labour is at war with business?

I had expected a music hall atmosphere this morning and the hon. Gentleman did not disappoint. As we can see from the general election campaign, the difference between us and the Conservative party is that we published earlier this month clearly worked-out and costed plans on pay-as-you-save insulation, on regulating private sector landlords to improve energy efficiency and on local authorities. The Conservatives talk about the £6,500, but as with so many other things from them, they have no idea where the money is coming from.

Can I tell companies such as EA Technology and Energetix in the Capenhurst area that the work they are doing on energy-saving measures, load balancing and novel technology solutions will be supported by the next Labour Government? Will my right hon. Friend commit to working with the Science Minister to ensure that the good work of such companies is brought into production in the UK by UK companies by the next Labour Government?

Yes, I can give that assurance. I thank my hon. Friend for his championing of these issues. Over the past 18 months or two years, we have seen an increasing understanding of the reality of the connection between tackling climate change and green jobs in this country. We have seen that with announcements on the offshore wind industry, electric cars and a whole host of other matters. He is right that Government support for private sector business is essential in this area.