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Energy Efficiency

Volume 576: debated on Thursday 27 February 2014

More than 450,000 homes received energy efficiency improvements in 2013 as a result of the coalition’s pioneering energy company obligation and green deal measures. We expect that figure to grow substantially in 2014 and that the green deal market will continue to expand.

I hear what the Minister says, but more than 7 million homes in the UK are without adequate loft insulation and more than 5 million are without cavity wall insulation, so will he explain why the number of households getting help through Government programmes fell last year by more than 90%?

It is slightly misleading to talk about 7 million lofts with inadequate loft insulation. They may not have the full amount of insulation, but the amount that they lack varies significantly.

So it is inadequate. We now need to move on, not just to simple measures such as loft insulation, but to a much broader holistic approach to home insulation—whole house retrofits. They are more complex and more expensive, but they also cannot be done just with subsidy. The Labour party has to make a choice. Do Labour Members want to force up consumer bills giving ever more subsidy to a small number of people, or do they want to work with us to create a genuine new market where people are incentivised to pay for themselves?

The green deal has the potential to revolutionise energy efficiency, but we all need to understand how we can ensure that our constituents link into it. What is my right hon. Friend doing to ensure that the green deal is as straightforward and efficient as possible, and that as many people as possible in north Oxfordshire can benefit from it?

During the past few months we have certainly been taking advantage of the fact that we now have the green deal up and running, and we have been improving the experience of the green deal, both for the consumer and the supply chain. We have now had more than 145,000 assessments by the green deal, and we know that it is getting high levels of customer satisfaction and that more than 80% of people who have had an assessment are moving on to install measures.

Since the privatisation of the public utilities, in Yorkshire the gas is now owned by the Germans, electricity by the Chinese and water by the Singaporeans. Should not the six major energy companies be driving this bid? We know that the Government are really lacking in green energy and the green deal. Why cannot the Minister galvanise the six energy companies, or should I ask Mrs Merkel this morning?

We should celebrate foreign investment in the UK and welcome the fact that the UK, particularly under the coalition Government, is becoming a world centre for inward investment. We are seeing investment in the green energy sector reach record highs—more than £30 billion since the coalition came into government —and seeing the amount of clean energy that we are generating take us up the European league table from the miserable second from bottom place that we used to occupy under the last Government.

One of the groups most deserving of benefit, from the warm home scheme in particular, are those who live in park homes, of which we have many in North Wiltshire. Due to the curious anomaly that electricity payers have to match exactly the people listed in the Department for Work and Pensions, they are not eligible for the warm home discount. Will the Minister find some way of getting around this anomaly, so that these deserving people, who live in their own homes, many of which are the coldest that could possibly be imagined, benefit from the scheme?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his tenacity in raising this issue. He is right. Park home owners and occupants have traditionally had a very poor deal compared with other consumers. We do not have the full answer yet, but I am determined to try to improve their lot, and I will be happy to meet him to try to iron out some of these quite difficult problems where people do not own the meter. There must be more that we can do.

A staggering amount of electricity is used and several large power stations kept running simply to power electronic devices such as televisions and computers that are left on standby. What can the Minister do, perhaps with other Departments, to try to tackle the problem of electronic devices having to be left on?

My hon. Friend asks a good question. Such electronic devices are largely covered by EU-wide product standards rather than just domestic initiatives. Innovation is the key, and that is what we want to spur. DECC has an innovation fund, and if my hon. Friend has some suggestions, I would be happy to hear them.

I do not wish to be unkind, but the Minister does perambulate in a mildly eccentric fashion. If he feels that he can face the House in answering questions, that would be greatly to the advantage of both the hon. Gentleman and the House.