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Energy Efficiency

Volume 552: debated on Thursday 1 November 2012

The green deal, together with the energy company obligation, is the coalition’s transformational programme to help consumers make energy saving improvements to their homes. We expect the first green deal finance plans to be written by the end of January next year. Our ambitious roll-out of smart meters will have reached every home in the country by 2019.

Homes in Blaenau Gwent, some more than 1,200 feet above sea level, need energy saving insulation now. Locally based RIS Insulation says there is a serious gap in Government policy as the green deal will not offer loans until late next year and that many jobs could be lost. How are the Government going to bridge that gap?

I am very pleased to correct that misinformation. The green deal finance plans will be written from January next year. The ECO is already in place, while the carbon emissions reduction target and the community energy saving programme will continue through to the end of this year, so there is a substantial programme of work that is seamless, running from the end of CERT and CESP right through to the take-up of the more transformational green deal programme.

Evidence produced by the Office for National Statistics and highlighted in the Plymouth Herald this week has highlighted the fact that many more people are working beyond pensionable age, in part because of the need to pay their high energy bills. The last Labour Government put tough obligations on those energy companies to support vulnerable families, including pensioners, with insulation. With only 10 weeks left, Ofgem is now warning that many of those energy companies are not going to meet their targets. What is the Minister doing to nail these energy companies and to explain to my pensioners in Plymouth that they are going to be supported and be warm?

The hon. Lady is right: there have been shortcomings in the programmes introduced under the last Government—namely, CERT and CESP. We have done much more to drive deployment of those programmes into vulnerable homes and for the super priority group. I have assurances that we will meet those targets for CERT and CESP, but the great thing about the green deal is that it is applicable to every single home. Whether it be pensioners living in rented accommodation or people living in social housing or on their own, the green deal will be for them, along with a whole range of measures that were not available under CERT.

Recognising entirely the important contribution that the green deal will make, does the Minister nevertheless accept the concerns expressed by the Select Committee about the relative absence of energy-efficiency measures from the draft energy Bill? When the final Bill eventually appears, will it include further measures, and has his Department given consideration to a feed-in tariff for energy efficiency?

This is one of a number of measures under active consideration at the moment. The energy Bill is very complex, as my hon. Friend the Chair of the Select Committee knows, but it will include the most transformational, radical proposals on energy efficiency ever introduced in this place. Given the complexity and the need to consult, some of these measures may be introduced by way of Government amendment as we take the Bill through the House. I can tell my hon. Friend that the Government are leading and are determined to act on energy efficiency in a way that the Labour party failed to do in 13 years of office.

The Hitachi deal is welcome in my constituency, but during a recent Select Committee hearing, the chief executive of EDF said that nuclear was not a done deal and that there would be some underwriting. Can the Minister tell us what that underwriting is, and whether there will be a public subsidy for nuclear generation?

Order. May I encourage Members to look closely at the question on the Order Paper, and to frame their supplementary questions accordingly?