The green deal will create a completely new market mechanism, incorporating an entirely new obligation on energy suppliers. It will drive up energy efficiency on an unprecedented scale, potentially reaching up to 26 million homes. Green deal plus and other initiatives should lead to around 10 million homes being treated by 2015.
That is good news, but as a promoter of the Warms Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he shares my disappointment at the relatively poor take-up of the scheme? What initiatives are the Government taking to ensure that vulnerable people are not cold in their homes this winter?
First, may I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s long record of campaigning on this issue? I assure him that Warm Front remains open. We will be treating tens of thousands of new homes this winter. However, it must be the right long-term approach to look for new ways to crowd in private sector investment.
The Secretary of State has announced his intention significantly to advance the 2020 target for the roll-out of smart meters. The industry, however, is saying that, for each year in advance, there may be trade-offs in efficiency, the interoperability of the kit and the overall functioning of the scheme. Will the Minister ask his officials to investigate that trade-off between efficiency and the acceleration of the scheme, and report back to Parliament?
The hon. Gentleman is right. There is a new sense of ambition on the roll-out of smart meters because they offer huge potential. He is also right that that is complex. There is a trade-off to be made, and we are alive to that. My hon. Friend the Minister and our officials are working on the matter collaboratively with the industry, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are making good progress.