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Energy Conservation Bill Hl

Volume 416: debated on Monday 19 January 1981

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4.40 p.m.

My Lords, 1 beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—( The Earl of Gowrie.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD DERWENT in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [ Power to prohibit supply of certain appliances without type approval mark or approved operating and maintenance instructions]:

The noble Lord said: It may be convenient if I speak to Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5 and 8 because they all cover the point that I wish to make. I hope that these will be considered as constructive amendments, which are intended to retain the Government's wide powers, while still allowing compliance with the EEC gas afppliances directive. This has been achieved by leaving in subsection (3) while at the same time broadening the description—

I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, for giving way. I am entirely in the hands of the Committee, but the noble Lord said that he wanted to take Amendments Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 8 together, and since these amendments are effectively about the scope of the Bill in relation to particular appliances, I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, would also like us to debate his amendments, Nos. 4 and 6, in this block and then we can take the Government's amendment, which is largely formal, separately. If we had a general debate on Clause I, would that be convenient?

I am very grateful for what has been said by the noble Earl, that we can have a general discussion, as the amendments are relevant one to another. I think it will be seen that in suggesting the removal from the Bill of the term "gas-powered", I am attempting to retain the wide powers which I believe Her Majesty's Government are intending to seek under this clause. It is easier if I explain that by removing the words "gas-powered" paragraph (b) will merely refer to appliances. The reference to a heat generator in paragraph (a) covers all heat generators of all kinds discussed on Second Reading of the Bill. Paragraph (b) covers all appliances whether gas-powered, electrically-powered or whatever. On paragraph (c), the object is to show that any of these appliances which have any control devices may also come under this clause of the Bill. I do not see any value in specifying different types of heat generators under this clause, especially when there are other parts of the Bill which still give the Government full powers to bring in the EEC gas appliances directive and any other powers that they may seek on individual types of appliances not covered under the term "heat generator".

Therefore I feel that one could ask the question: "When is a heat generator not a heat generator?" As the Bill stands at the moment, one is almost inclined to say: "When it is a gas appliance". This is not the intention of the Bill. It is meant to cover all heat generators, and the Government have power under the term "any heat generator". Therefore, why over-emphasise the matter merely to bring in the EEC gas appliances directive, which can be covered under other clauses of this Bill?

There is another area in which it is dangerous, while the Government are seeking these wide powers, to bring in the term "gas appliance". I feel that it is rather like a Pandora's box. Gas appliances cover a far wider term in my belief—and perhaps the noble Earl will be able to confirm this—than is intended in the Bill. I do not see how or why a gas-powered heat generator which is used for defying gravity, as some people use them in terms of a hot air balloon, should come under Clause 1 of the Bill. I am not sure whether gas appliances do not perhaps even apply to batteries of certain sorts. I think that there are too many dangers of being too specific in Clause 1 of the Bill.

My second amendment, by removing the words "gas-powered" and inserting the word "heating", also assists the noble Earl in his amendment which therefore embraces solar panels. I should like, in introducing this amendment, to open up a discussion on the whole area of what are the wide powers of the Bill. Hopefully, the amendments which I have submitted will assist the Government in retaining these wide powers, whereas at the moment I believe that with the wording as now written in the Bill, these powers are being reduced. I beg to move.

I should like to support these amendments and also, as the Committee have given permission, to speak to Amendments Nos. 4 and 6 in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, and myself. Amendment No. 4 would give the Secretary of State powers to specify energy efficiency standards for domestic electrical appliances. As the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, has said, at present the Bill provides only for efficiency standards for space and water heaters and gas appliances. The amendment would extend the Bill's scope to cover such appliances as refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ovens, irons, washing machines, tumble driers and television sets.

The Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill makes clear that the Government will also be enabled, if they wish, to deal with space and water heaters which are not covered by the directives. So there is, I would submit, a precedent for this and a case for extending the scope of the Bill to cover other important domestic appliances of this kind. Therefore I support the amendments.

I am grateful to both noble Lords for consenting that these amendments on Clause 1, except the Government amendment, should be taken together. All these amendments have in common that they are about extending the scope of the Bill to cover new categories of appliance. The Government have given very careful consideration to which appliances should be covered by the Bill. We are mindful of the fact that the costs of operating a system of type approval of appliances will fall on industry because of course type approval bodies will charge fees.

In most cases, these costs will inevitably then be passed on to the customer. We have therefore tried to obviate the ill-effects of this, while preserving the principle of the Bill, by seeking powers only in those areas where it seems likely that the system of standards and type approval could effect a significant improvement in energy efficiency. We have decided to include all types of appliance intended for space and water heating, and to include within that category appliances not sold direct to the public but those which come into our homes and factories by means of professional installers, thus inhibiting the effect of market forces in raising efficiency.

They account for a major element of national fuel consumption. There are practical ways in our view in which efficiency standards can be set. Type approval should therefore in this way prove cost-effective. Appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, et cetera, are sold direct to the public and there market forces can work more normally. Energy efficiency is already—as we know from our own lives as consumers—becoming a selling point in many appliances. They use a much smaller proportion of national energy consumption and are subject to continual technical change and improvement.

The effect of using the powers proposed in Lord Strabolgi's Amendment No. 4 or those in Lord Tanlaw's Amendments Nos. 1 to 3 would, in our view, be to impose unnecessary cost burdens on manufacturers, and ultimately therefore consumers, without the prospect that it would prove practical to define standards that even kept up with technical progress or that type approval would be a cost-effective way of saving energy. I am not saying that the Government are indifferent to the energy efficiency of those appliances—and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, mentioned a number of them—which are not covered by the Bill. We have taken careful note of the views of those who argue that the energy efficiency of household appliances and lighting can be raised. We continue to discuss this subject with representatives of manufacturers and consumers, and in doing so we press for improvements in energy efficiency where this is practical and cost-effective.

But it is our view that, by concentrating on all types of appliance intended for space and water heating which involve installation, we are achieving a significant energy conservation objective without, as I say, interfering in the natural pressure towards greater conservation which is operating effectively in the market at present. That is why I advise the Committee to resist these amendments.

4.51 p.m.

This is, in effect, a very small Bill. It has plenty to be modest about, but it is not very modest, in the sense that it has the very grand title of "Energy Conservation Bill". The noble Earl the Minister will note that there is an amendment down later to change the Title of the Bill to something which is more suitable, having regard to what the Government have included in it.

I do not think that we should underestimate the problems that energy conservation and energy use will cause in the course of the next 20 years or so. The use of the kind of appliances which we are trying to put into this Bill to expand its scope is forecast by various bodies— I think without much query as to its accuracy—to be likely to increase quite a lot over that period of time. The noble Earl the Minister quite rightly said that the various appliances which we are seeking to put into this Bill are a smaller part of the energy requirements than what the Bill mainly deals with, but, none the less, they are still a very important part.

In 1975, the various appliances which we are attempting to put into this Bill accounted for 38 per cent. of the United Kingdom's domestic electrical consumption and an even higher percentage during peak periods, which are the times for which the Central Electricity Generating Board produces the power. Therefore, the more appliances you have at peak periods, the greater is the capacity which is needed to be produced. If we want to reduce energy consumption and the amount of capacity that is available, we have to cut down on what happens at peak periods. What is more, we must cut down on the increase that is looked for over the next 20 years. For instance, it is forecast—again, I do not know whether this is accurate—that the number of homes which have dishwashers will increase from the 1975 figure of 2 per cent, to 30 per cent. in the year 2000, and we all know that there is a wide variation in the amount of energy that is used by the different types.

The noble Earl the Minister has said that because types of appliances change so quickly, it would not be appropriate to put these appliances into the Bill along with those which are the primary concern of the Bill. I accept that there is a difference, and that it is easier to include the appliances which are covered. But what I do not accept is that we can rely entirely upon market pressures to solve this problem. There has to be more than that. There has to be a Government commitment to see that we get power usage down during this period.

I am very disappointed with the reply of the noble Earl the Minister, not necessarily because he has not accepted our amendment, but because he has not attempted to produce any kind of Government initiative which would help in this matter, about which we on these Benches feel very strongly. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us a slightly fuller reply than he has given so far.

4.56 p.m.

Like my noble friends, I feel very strongly about this matter, particularly because I happen to be president of the Conservation Society which has for years struggled to persuade successive Governments to listen to the arguments for doing something about energy conservation, and not to leave it entirely to market forces, as the noble Earl on the Government Front Bench seems to wish. I must say that when we have the opportunity, as we have today, of discussing an Energy Conservation Bill, it is our duty to try to see that it does what the Title suggests, as my noble friend had just said, and does not simply introduce some very minor improvements in the Government's policy for these matters.

I accept, also, that at the moment the appliances which my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, have in mind may not represent a very high proportion of consumption, whether it be 25 or 30 per cent. of total domestic energy consumption. But as my noble friend has just remarked, they represent a much higher proportion of electrical energy consumption and this is of particular importance, hearing in mind the investment which the increase in these appliances is likely to stimulate.

I do not know how much investigation the Minister has done into the effect of an extra kilowatt being consumed at peak hours, when it comes, as it will do in the future, largely from the very expensive nuclear generating capacity which we are now about to construct, and which may cost £2,000 per additional kilowatt. So that the person who switches on one of these appliances which the noble Earl says account for such a low proportion of domestic energy consumption is not simply consuming an extra kilowatt of energy. He is intervening in the market by helping to cause the Central Electricity Generating Board to construct a new station of, perhaps, 2,000 megawatts. When you add together the person with the dishwasher, another person with a hi-fi set and a third person with a video recorder, those people, switching on their appliances at peak hours, are causing this additional investment in the CEGB which my noble friend says is of such importance—and I entirely agree with him.

Therefore, although we are not asking the Minister to do anything immediately, we are saying that he should at least have the power, the permissive right which we are putting in in these additional clauses, to make regulations for those appliances, as he can for the ones in the Bill. I myself think, and I expect that many noble Lords will agree with me, that although we may he talking about what is a comparatively small proportion of the total energy consumption at the moment, if we are successful in the programmes of improved insulation of dwellings that we have talked about so much over the past few years, then the amount of energy which is consumed in heating will decline as a proportion of the total. So that, by the end of the century, these appliances, which the noble Earl on the Front Bench says are of minor importance now, may account for the majority of the consumption in the home.

In view of the fact that we are not likely to have another opportunity to legislate for some considerable time, why does not the noble Earl at least take these powers—not use them, if he does not want to, in the immediate future, but at least have them in reserve so that if the predictions that we on these Benches are making come true he or his successors will not have to say in a few years' time, "I only wish the opportunity had been taken in 1981 to put these into the Bill"?

May I answer the two general points which have been made by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, and his noble friend. I do get the impression that my original answer was not entirely satisfactory, and I think it was not entirely satisfactory. The reason why it was not entirely satisfactory was because I did not put it very well. Another reason why it was not entirely satisfactory was because the phrase "market forces" is apt to get us into the arena of macro-economic debate. Whatever our general views about macro-economic issues, this is not what I had in mind when I was talking about the Bill.

The market forces I mentioned are well illustrated by two recent advertisements of very different goods which are sold direct to the public. Your Lordships will he aware that one of the big selling points of the Mini Metro—I realise that in this Bill we are not dealing with cars but I use the Mini Metro by analogy—is that it is capable of travelling up to 83 miles per gallon. That is put forward as a selling point by the manufacturers. Obviously the Government have methods of seeing that such claims are justifiable and are not made irresponsibly.

Closer to home, both literally and in terms of this Bill, I commend another recent advertisement of a product manufactured by a company whose name I cannot remember. However, the advertisement made the sensible point that the company was offering on the market an oven which could cook a small amount of food in one part of it and a larger amount if you wished to extend it for a special occasion. It argued that many people were turning on ovens designed to roast a turkey for about 17 in order to make a small flan for one or two people. It is that kind of instance where in our view the market has a strong market interest in energy efficiency. These are goods which are sold direct to the public, who will look around and judge products not merely on their technical capacity but also on their energy efficiency. This will be a good selling point.

My second point on market forces is that technology changes rapidly and that companies are competing over research and development in connection with these appliances because they know perfectly well that energy efficiency is a selling point to the public. We are worried that if we write into the Bill certain requirements, our requirements here for directly sold appliances may lag behind. We may be requiring more inefficiency, if I may put it this way, than the market interchange between consumers, purchasers and manufacturers is providing.

That is on what could be called the directly sold appliance side of the equation. This clause is concerned with those articles which one tends to buy, whether one is in a manufacturing combine or whether one is simply equipping one's home without so much knowledge, or less frequently, as directly installed appliances—space heaters, water heaters and the like. By having type approval there, we think we can achieve substantial energy saving of the kind we all want without tampering with what the market is doing quite efficiently, as I think the examples which I have given—I could give many others—show, and also without passing on gratuitous costs to those manufacturers and therefore to those consumers.

I accept that the Bill may be more modest than its rather grand title indicates, although there are good reasons for that title, as I hope to show later; hut it is for those reasons that I hope the Committee will accept my assurances and resist the amendments.

In view of what the noble Earl has said, obviously I shall have to reconsider the position. However, what lie has been trying to say is that the appliance of science to the statute book is a difficult process. Especially when the second law of thermodynamics is used, it produces odd results. We were hoping to strengthen his hand in the Bill, but the noble Earl desires not to have it strengthened in this way by these amendments. In that case, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendments Nos. 2 to 6 not moved.]

5.6 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 7:

page3, line 35, leave out (" (whether or not it") and insert ("being an appliance which uses energy in any form (including solar radiation) to generate or transmit the heat required for the purpose (including any such appliance which").

The noble Earl said: During the Second Reading debate of the Bill in your Lordships' House interest was shown in the question of which appliances were covered by the term "heat generator". Partly as a consequence of the representations made to me then, we have concluded that the definition of "heat generator" in Clause 1(11) needs to be refined. As at present defined, the term "heat generator" covers a variety of appliances which it is not our intention to cover in the Bill. The radiators of a central heating system, for instance, obviously are appliances designed for space heating and therefore are heat generators within the meaning of Clause 1(11) as it stands at present. But it is not sensible to subject central heating radiators to a system of type approval. It is the boiler of the central heating system which can best be made more efficient by means of the kind of standards we are seeking to achieve in the Bill by means of type approval.

The essence of the heat generator is that it has an input in the form of fuel, or electricity, or solar energy, and an output in the form of heat—as hot water, steam, hot air or radiant heat. In non-scientific language, a heat generator is an energy-consuming appliance designed for space or water heating. This amendment therefore adds a second limb to the definition of "heat generator"; namely, that a heat generator is an appliance which uses energy in any form, including solar radiation, to generate or transmit the heat required for the purpose of space or water heating.

By this amendment, the term "heat generator" will cover the following space and water heating appliances: all forms of boiler; fires and heaters which use fuel or electricity, since these use energy to generate heat; heat pumps if they are designed for space or water heating, because the amendment speaks of appliances which use energy to transmit heat; solar panels, since these use solar radiation for the purposes of hot water production. All these appliances are implicitly covered by the definition in Clause 1(11) as it stands.

The amendment does not add any new categories of appliance to the definition of a heat generator, but the point is that Part I of the Bill is about the setting up of a system of type approvals. The efficiency of boilers can be dealt with by means of type approvals, but the question of controls for the central heating system cannot, because many controls, valves and the like are sold separately and are only married up, or effective, with the rest of the system during installation. I beg to move.

If the Minister put down this amendment primarily with the intention of excluding hot water radiators, then I do not think he has been successful because a hot water radiator is an appliance which takes in energy in the form of hot water from the remainder of the central heating system and transmits it into the room by radiation and convection. Therefore it would still be included within the extended definition, as amended. The noble Earl should have another look at the definition between now and the Report stage to sec whether the remarks I have just made do not imply that the radiators which he seeks to exclude are still covered.

I certainly have no reluctance to look at the noble Lord's remarks between now and the next stage of the Bill but I would remind him that we have thought of this point. The hot water has to get hot before it gets into the radiator in order to disseminate its heat more efficiently, and what we are concerned with is the type approval and the energy conserving standards of the appliance which makes that water hot. Therefore, it does not seem to me to achieve the results we want to insist upon standards for the radiator which are rather meaningless when divorced from its boiler.

The noble Earl has missed the point I was trying to make. I was not disagreeing with him in his attempt to exclude radiators from the Bill. What I am saying is that he has been unsuccessful in modifying the definition so as to exclude radiators. I am with him in his intention not to include radiators, which he said do not need type approval; but I do not think that the amendment tabled by the noble Earl achieves that purpose.

I was going to say that in my humble view it seemed admirably to fit the Bill, and before the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, intervened I was about to congratulate the Government and the draftsmen on their ingenuity. Of course we are dealing with the Bill in its first stage. It is a Bill which started in your Lordships' House and I think we must be grateful to the noble Earl. It seems to me to be an excellent reason why from time to time Bills should start in this House.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[ Amendment No. 8 not moved.]

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [ UK requirements for type approval and approval of operating and maintenance instructions]:

5.13 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 9

page4, line 11, after ("construction") insert (" thermostatic control").

The noble Lord said: It may be convenient if 1 speak also to amendment No. 10. This is a very short and simple amendment really to ask the noble Earl whether he will confirm that, whereas the Bill has powers to give type approval to various thermostatic controls over gas appliances, this should also be extended to all other appliances, also including radiant heat sources, such as radiators, which have been touched on. I really cannot quite see why we are taking so much trouble to ensure that we get type approval and maximum energy efficiency on the source of heat, the form of energy conversion power or at the heat generator source, because if such a type-approved heat generator is linked to a set of inefficient radiators all the energy saved and the efficiency made in the type-approved heat generator is lost by having a series of poor radiant heat sources, or inefficient radiators.

Therefore, I should like to ask the Government whether they are sure that all the good work that this Bill is intended to do may not be undone unless they are able to confirm that type approval will be given to a heat generator that has an efficient system of radiant heat sources; for example, radiators and proper thermostatic controls. Similar to the example given by the noble Earl, of cooking a small steak in a large oven, there are often occasions when part of a building is not being used or different temperatures are required in different parts of the building, where proper thermostatic control must be maintained, with proper valves. If the noble Earl can give some assurance that the good work of the Bill is not being undermined by the lack of control over the radiant heat sources and the thermostatic controls, obviously I would be prepared not to press this amendment. In the meantime I beg to move.

Although I am not directly employed, so to speak, in the Department of Energy, I do have rather proprietorial feelings about this Bill as it was introduced in your Lordships' House and therefore I am entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, in not wishing to see it undermined in any way. I think I can set his mind at rest in that the substantive points he has made are covered by the existing wording of the Bill. Of course there is always the fascination when semantics and linguistics tangle with engineering devices, which one gets in this kind of legislation.

Clause 2(2) already provides that standards may impose requirements with respect to the design or construction of appliances, and this clearly includes the possibility of requiring that appliances should have appropriate thermostatic controls upon them. Clause 2(2) is also concerned with the sorts of standards which may be set for any of the appliances covered by Part I of the Bill. These, of course, include radiant heat sources such as radiant gas fires.

Amendment No. 10 does not make different provision for radiant heat sources from that for other types of appliances, and therefore I do not quite understand why the provisions already contained in subsection (2)(a) should not be regarded as sufficient. I can tell the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, that radiant space heaters are heat generators and so are covered.

In view of those remarks, I do not wish to press either of the amendments standing in my name, and I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 9.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 10 not moved.]

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clauses 3 to 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [ On-site testing orders]:

moved Amendment No. 11:

Page 11, line 40, leave out ("owner") and insert ("person responsible for the use").

The noble Earl said: With the leave of the Committee, while moving this amendment I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 12, 15 and 18. At present, Clause 9(5) of the Bill provides that after a testing authority has carried out an on-site test on a heat generator, it may be required by an order made under Clause 9 to send a copy of the test report to the owner of the heat generator, and—if the heat generator has passed the test—to send the owner also a data plate and a document containing information about the result of the test. Later on, in Clause 13, the Bill gives the Secretary of State the power to require the owner of the heat generator to fix to the heat generator the data plate that he has received from the testing authority.

The Government have received representations from organisations representing finance companies to the effect that these provisions are not entirely appropriate. Some heat generators, for instance, are sold under what are commonly called "leasing agreements ". Under these agreements, ownership of the heat generator, generally throughout its entire useful life, rests with a finance company, and not with the person entitled under the agreement to its possession. But the finance company's interest in the heat generator is purely financial. In the majority of cases, it is not involved in operating or maintaining the appliance, and has never had it physically in its possession. In these circumstances, it is not appropriate to make the owner of the heat generator the recipient of the test report, and so on, or the person responsible for fixing the data plate to the heat generator. Clause 14 of the Bill already recognises this point in relation to heat generators which are subject to hire purchase or conditional sale agreements.

The Government now believe it is desirable to extend this principle to cover other sorts of agreement under which the person in possession of the heat generator is someone other than the formal owner. We propose to do this by placing rights and duties on the person responsible for the use of the heat generator instead of on the owner. This amendment and the amendment to Clause 13 are concerned with making this small change, and the amendment to Clause 14 provides a definition of "person responsible for the use of a heat generator." I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

moved Amendment No. 12:

Page 12, line 12, leave out ("owner") and insert ("person responsible for the use").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Page 12, line 13, at end insert ("; and

(c) to send to the owner of any generator tested by the order a copy of the test report to be displayed outside the premises of installation for inspection by the testing authority.").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I would like it to be read in conjunction with the amendments I have down to Clause 13—Amendments Nos. 16 and 17—because there is a matter of general principle involved in it. Secondly, I also believe that it adds strength to the Bill; it provides greater acceptance by the public and encourages the owner of any heat generator to purchase a type-approved heat generator. If in fact, as has been said by the noble Earl, the owner of any generator tested has to receive various copies of the test certificates, then he should be given one more copy, which is for display outside the premises of installation for inspection by the testing authority.

I see no reason why the testing authority's inspectors need to have access simply to read the certificate. I feel that this can only create the same kind of problems as it creates for members of gas boards or electricity boards who have to go in to read a meter and cannot get access for one reason or another. Also I feel that it is a waste of money if testing authority inspectors have to make special visits, or have to make appointments to get entry to an office or dwelling-house, to find the owner, who then has to find the certificate. Let us not pretend that the owners of heat generators are any less human than other members of the public; there will be occasions on which they will mislay the vital certificate, and this will create still further correspondence problems. Therefore, why do we not send the owner a copy of the test certificate for display outside the building so that it can be read by inspectors? They need not trouble anybody; they can go along and check it. Of course, if there is anything wrong or defective or suspicious about such certificates the inspectors can use the full powers under the Bill to get entry, to ask for other relevant papers, to look at the type-approval plate on the heat generator and so on.

This is a simple amendment intended to strengthen the Bill and also to put forward a matter of principle, that we should try to discourage as much as possible entry to dwelling-houses. It can be overcome by this simple addition to the Bill providing an extra copy of the test certificate for display outside the premises of installation. I beg to move.

May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, if he was also speaking to his amendment No. 17?

No. I really wanted to get the noble Earl's view on this amendment, and obviously the Government's reaction to it would influence my views on Amendment No. 17, which in fact is slightly different in the sense that it involves electricity and gas meters.

I am grateful to the noble Lord for making that clear. The noble Lord and I are absolutely in agreement that Part II of the Bill must deal with issues of enforcement, but where I think we differ is that he seems to envisage, by the language of his amendment, that there will be a body of inspectors whose job it will be to make on-site checks to see that boilers have been tested. That is not quite how we envisage it. As I explained at Second Reading, it is our intention to use the powers in Clauses 9(6) and 12(2) to compile records of heat generators supplied and then match them against records of heat generators tested. The powers under Part II of the Bill will be used to require on-site testing only for the very largest boilers, that is to say only about some 700 installations to be tested in a given year. In that context our method of enforcement seems both practical and economic.

In those few cases where the records show apparent discrepancies and where an on-site check is desirable, it will 11 be as simple for an inspector to look at the boiler to see if it bears a data plate provided by the testing authority as it would be to check the outside of what is likely to be a very large building for a copy of the test certificate. Amendment No. 16 refers to type-approved heat generators and is therefore inappropriate in Part II of the Bill, which concerns only heat generators not subject to type-approval procedures.

I am not entirely clear about what the noble Earl has just said. If, as I understand it, there will be no need for inspection of these certificates unless for very major installations, and therefore it is not necessary to display them, or indeed to produce them except under very special circumstances, then obviously there has been a misunderstanding on my part in interpretation of the Bill.

As to the noble Earl's other point about how to find the certificates if they are displayed outside the building, this is covered in Amendment No. 17. They will be put in the area or in the cupboard or box which contains the meters for the gas and electricity and other services to a building, be it a private dwelling-house or an industrial building. Perhaps the noble Earl can confirm that he is saying that this amendment is not necessary because the certificates will not need to be inspected except on very special occasions, so that members of the general public will not need to be bothered by inspectors. In that case I shall be happy not to press these two amendments.

The noble Lord has now got it right, if I may say so. We are talking about the inspection of very few appliances, all as big as a house, as it were. There is no reason why the data plate should not be on the installation itself rather than on the building which houses it. It will be a fairly massively visible and checkable affair. The kind of checking of on-site testing that we are doing is fundamental to the mode of design which has been put into production. The work of the inspector would be to check any discrepancies between our understanding of the design and what might have been installed under that design. It would be really in the sphere of large-scale commercial operations that this Part of the Bill would apply.

May I ask the noble Earl whether he would agree that the energy being consumed in your Lordships' Chamber is grossly excessive?

I think this is rather outside the immediate sphere of the Bill, but I am quite happy to take it up with the usual channels. We must be cost-effective in that way. It may he that we have not made sufficient allowance for the delicate state of our heraldic bosses, that the presence of the scaffolding and the new false ceiling has raised the temperature, and that therefore we could put the thermostat down a little. I will certainly pass it on.

In view of the noble Earl's very helpful explanations, I shall not press this amendment. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 13.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [ Obligations of suppliers of generators subject to on-site testing]:

moved Amendment No. 14:

Page 14, line 16, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 14 and I beg leave to speak to Amendments Nos. 23 to 27 together with this amendment. We are proposing the deletion of Clause 12(3) of the Bill simply because Amendment No. 23 to Clause 26 will now make it unnecessary, if that amendment is accepted.

Amendment No. 23 supplements the definition of "supply". This is an important definition, since Clause 1 of the Bill gives the Secretary of State the power to prohibit the supply of a heat generator without a type approval mark, or the supply of a gas appliance unless a type approval is in force for the model in question. The reasons for the proposed change are very similar to the reasons behind the amendments to Clauses 9, 13 and 14. The present definition includes in the concept of supplying an appliance, supply under a hire or hire-purchase agreement. It is commonly a finance company once again which supplies an appliance under an agreement of this sort. As I argued in the last set of Government amendments, the finance company will probably never have had physical possession of the heat generator, so it is unreasonable to hold it responsible if, for instance, a heat generator is supplied which ought to bear a type approval mark but which does not do so, or ought to be but is not accompanied by operating instructions. It is much more reasonable, surely, to confine this responsibility on the person who physically provides the appliances—the shopkeeper, the builders' merchant or the like.

Amendment No. 23, therefore, provides that where an appliance is supplied under a hire-purchase agreement, it is the person who provides the appliance, rather than any finance company which hires or otherwise transfers the appliance to the consumer, who will be treated as supplying the appliance. There are very similar provisions in Section 6(9) of the Health and safety at Work Act 1974 and in Section 9(3) of the Consumer Safety Act 1978. I beg leave to move Amendment No. 14.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13 [ Data plates for approved generators]:

moved Amendment No. 15:

Page 14, line 22, leave out ("owner") and insert ("person responsible for the use").

The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 15. I have already spoken to this amendment with Amendments Nos. 11 and 12.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[ Amendment No. 16 not moved.]

5.34 p.m.

Page 14, line 26, at end insert—

(" ( ) The Secretary of State may also by order enable the owner of any type-approved heat generator to make an application for facilities to the relevant Electricity Generating Board or Gas Board for all energy metering devices and test reports to be sited for inspection outside the premises of installation.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 17. I separated this amendment from the other two, and, of course, as a result of the information that 1 have had from the noble Earl the wording is not now correct, but that does not in any way take away the point of this amendment. Perhaps hopefully, the noble Earl will look at it and see some means of incorporating at least the principle behind the amendment in the Bill when it goes to another place.

It was asked on Second Reading: what are the benefits to the owners of type-approved heat generators? Where are the benefits to the general public within this Bill?—as opposed to the general principle which we all approve, and we strongly support the Government in their presentation of it. There are very few benefits. Therefore, I am suggesting that here is one way in which the Bill could receive general enthusiasm in that it would reach out and affect a large number of members of the public who have been irritated for many years by this inefficient method of reading meters.

There are a number of humorous stories about meter readers which I shall not introduce into the Committee stage of an energy conservation Bill, but what I shall say is that I think there could be some conservation of energy in the administration of the electricity and gas boards by greater efficiency in their reading of meters. There are technical ways in which that may be done in a few years' time, but the most efficient way of all is simply to install meters so that they can be read from the outside of the household or office. That would not require entry; it requires them getting the information without bothering the owner. That is a very simple thing.

A great deal of aggravation has been created by visits by inspectors to read meters who are unable to get access. In those circumstances, they have to guess the amount of electricity or gas which has been consumed. That is often wildly inaccurate in their favour and creates a certain amount of hostile correspondence. The whole thing is unnecessary.

However, here in this Bill we can incorporate now a newly worded section which would allow any owner of a type-approved heat generator automatically to apply, free of cost, to have his meters reinstalled or resited if required, in order that they may be read from outside the building. That surely would be to the cost-benefit of the generating boards because they would not waste money on calls that are unproductive. Therefore, I think that everyone should be reasonably happy.

The noble Earl well may say that this is not the right Bill to bring this in. I ask him to reconsider that. As I said earlier, there do not appear to be any direct benefits coming from this rather well-meaning Bill, in which case I am asking to put in a sweetener which will be generally popular and, indeed, I think cost effective in every sense. I beg to move.

The purpose of the noble Lord's amendment would be to add a new power to the Bill whereby the Secretary of State could enable the owner of any type-approved heat generator to make an application for facilities to the relevant electricity generating board or gas board for all energy metering devices and test reports to be sited for inspection or reading outside the premises of installation.

May I say that I am very sorry to miss the noble Lord's anecdotes about people who read meters. Perhaps he could have a private word with me between now and the next stage of the Bill. I am all for sweetening consumers, but I find the question of the siting of gas and electricity meters rather remote from the purposes of the Bill. I do not quite see the relevance of their siting to energy conservation. Consumers are, of course, already able to apply to have meters sited outside the premises, although it is, of course up to the electricity or gas board to decide whether or not to comply with their request.

What I am not quite clear about is why the noble Lord should regard it as important for consumers that they should be enabled, by statute, to have meters outside the premises. Siting meters outside is normally done, not for the benefit of the consumer, but for the benefit of the gas or electricity board, since they do not then need access to the premises in order to read the meters. The Government would, therefore, much prefer to continue to leave this matter to the gas and electricity industries to handle as they think fit. I hope that the noble Lord will be content to leave it at that.

I must say that the noble Earl can never have lived on his own if he thinks that it is not in the interests of consumers to have meter reading done outside the building. As the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, has said, it is a source of constant irritation to people who have to go out to work—and if the occupants are couples often they both go out to work—that it is not possible to get their meter effectively read. One receives endless little notices from the electricity Authority—who take not the slightest notice, I may say, when one writes to tell them when one is going to be in—saying that they have called and cannot get in. They then estimate your account; you get a totally wrong figure and you spend a great deal of time month after month having to adjust your accounts. It would be a very great convenience to be able to have the reading of the meter carried out automatically outside, without having to provide access.

I take that point, but, of course, we are not dealing with general meters of one's electricity use, where I completely understand the relevance of what the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, is saying; under the Bill we are dealing with type-approved heat generators, probably under Part I of the Bill, rather than Part II where this occurs. Nevertheless, I shall look at the point. Perhaps if the noble Lord wishes to return to it, I can see whether I can give him some satisfaction. However, at first glance it does not seem that the consumers' interests, which the noble Lord and his noble friend Lady Seear are representing, are, in fact, relevant in this part of the Bill. However, I shall have another look at it.

I am extremely grateful to the noble Earl for his response to this. I appreciate that this may not be the right part of the Bill, or even the right Bill. I can simply assure him that this is a matter which bothers a large number of people. As to how to bring it to pass, I am not clear. I found that this Bill was the nearest one could get to doing so. I must warn the noble Earl that it would be difficult for him and for the general goodwill of the Government if he categorically said "No, I shall not look at this", whether or not this is the right Bill, or whether there should be a separate arrangement for it. If he can take on board that this does worry a large number of the public and will have another look at it, I shall be very pleased to withdraw the amendment and be encouraged by his remarks.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 14 [ Interpretation of Part II]:

5.43 p.m.

Page 14, line 39, leave out paragraph ( a) and insert—

(" (a) references to the person responsible for the use of any heat generator are references to the owner or, if a person other than the owner is in possession of the generator under any agreement the person in possession under that agreement;").

The noble Earl said: I have already spoken to this amendment when I spoke to Amendments Nos. 11 and 12. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 14, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 15 agreed to.

moved Amendment No. 19:

After Clause 15, insert the following new clause:

(" Use of water power for electricity generation, etc.

.(1) In the exercise of their functions under the Water Resources Act 1963 and the other enactments relating to water and water-supply and the control and disposition of water resources, water authorities shall have regard to the national importance of facilitating, so far as is reasonably consistent with the need to satisfy primary demands on those resources, the use of water as an alternative or supplementary source of power.

(2) A charging scheme under section 32 of the Water Act 1973 may provide for charges to be paid by persons obtaining power from machinery installed in water in the authority's area; but such charges—

  • (a) shall only be made in the cases (if any) where the authority is obliged to incur expenditure directed to maintaining the flow of water to the machinery or otherwise in connection with the machinery or any use to which it is put; and
  • (b) when made, shall be reasonably related to the amount and character of the expenditure, taking into account any extent to which it serves purposes other than those of providing water power.").
  • The noble Lord said: In speaking to this amendment, I should also like to speak to the consequential amendment, Amendment No. 29. However, before I do so, I should like to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that in the first line of subsection (2) "section 32" should read "section 31". I apologise to the Committee for this error; I do not know how it crept in.

    This is a fairly long amendment addressing a relatively simple but, I think, quite important point. It comes into conservation—and, incidentally, it is well within the Long Title of the Bill when it refers to the "nation's use of energy"—because the widespread and diffuse production of energy from small-scale renewable resources is the other side of the energy-saving equation. The purpose of the amendment is to safeguard past and present practice, but, perhaps more importantly, it is to smooth the path of future development of power from water resources. In this connection, I am glad to see my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy present, because I hope that he will be able to tell us how it is that in recent times Scotland seems to have managed these affairs better than England and Wales.

    I also know that the Department of Energy is aware of new techniques which are currently being developed and these will help to extract power from low head hydro installations. Of course, it is difficult to estimate the contribution that installations of this kind could make to the overall power production in the United Kingdom, hut even 1 per cent. would be very well worth having. However, the December issue of the Department of Energy's own broadsheet, called Energy Management, has a large article on small-scale hydroelectricity power. In it, it says that it believes the potential to be something like the equivalent of a quarter of a million tonnes of coal equivalent each year, which I suppose is probably worth £10 million. Therefore, I suggest that this is worth going for. Incidentally, there is the additional point that making machines of this kind at this juncture in our affairs would be a useful additional industry with export potential, and would give—and I am sure this is particularly dear to the heart of the Minister—some possibility of additional employment in small firms.

    The amendment does not seek to address the fundamental problem of what is abstraction. That has been a source of argument in England and Wales ever since the Water Act 1963. At risk of over-simplification of a vexed and complicated question, perhaps I could explain that the National Association of Water-Power Users, which has drafted this amendment, believes that taking water out of a river, dropping it through a few feet and returning it again to that same river does not by any reasonable definition constitute a taking out or abstraction. But this amendment deliberately confines itself to the more limited objective of seeking to restrain water authorities from levying unreasonable charges, perhaps related to the work that they have to do in making the water available.

    Here, I should like to pray in aid a letter written by the Department of the Environment. On 18th December, the Minister wrote saying:

    "A defensible case could be made for charging for these abstractions only a minimal cost to cover the administrative expenses of granting a licence and not calculated on a volume-related basis".

    I find that most encouraging. Incidentally, that same letter put the subject into perspective by mentioning that the total revenues collected under this heading in 1977 were about £20,000. Therefore, any potential loss of revenue would not have much impact on water authority finances. That same letter shows additional enlightenment when the Minister says:

    " I am concerned that charging for these abstractions is seen as an obstacle to new initiatives in producing energy from non-fossil fuel sources".

    This is, of course, particularly true where capital costs are likely to be relatively high for hydro-electric schemes, because the installer hopes to recoup his outlay through greatly reduced annual costs.

    It may be argued that protective legislation of this sort is not needed; but there I must point out that there have been cases, which I raised in this House very many years ago, where water authorities felt it necessary to ask for dramatic rate increases from those who are using water for power production. In four specific cases of which I have a record the suggested rates were increased from less than £100 to over £10,000. That is an increase of over one hundred-fold. Even the cost of oil—and, God knows, that has been pretty dramatic—has gone up by only a factor of 20 since 1973. Therefore, I believe that there are sufficiently alarming cases to cause us to say that we should do something to protect people against these kinds of imposition. It seems to me that this Bill is an ideal opportunity to do it, and it is a better opportunity than a Private Member's Bill which I believe was in preparation.

    I should have thought that the case I am advancing would have commended itself without any equivocation to the Department of Energy, and it appears to be supported by the Department of the Environment. I very much hope that the Minister will feel able to accept the concept at least in principle, even if he has reservations about the detailed drafting of our amendment. I beg to move Amendment No. 19, with the amendment of "32" to "31".

    5.52 p.m.

    I should like to support this amendment. In doing so I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, for the way in which he has moved it. I think that the Government's loss has been the gain of the Back-Benches. I endorse everything that he has said. As the noble Lord has said, one of the difficulties stems from the Water Resources Act 1963 which, combined with the traditional attitude of many of the electricity people, amounts to a powerful disincentive for those who run, or seek to run, turbines or waterwheels.

    The National Association of Water-Power Users tell me that in their experience no other country so discourages access to this well-proven renewable energy source. One of the difficulties has been that energy has been the responsibility of the Department of Energy, as we all know, and that water, and things like thermal insulation, rating and re-rating, and so on, have all come under the Department of the Environment who, until recently, have had very little interest in energy conservation at all.

    During 1977 there was a change and the previous Government set up a study group which was composed of these two departments. I believe that they have worked together on this problem and they have produced a research paper which shows that there has indeed been a rundown in the use of water power over many years, and it is demonstrated that it is practicable, and in the national interest, to reverse this trend. I should therefore like to ask the Government how their policy is going along in connection with this study. Those who create waterpower do not use water. They only make use of its energy and then they return the water to the river a little lower down, and both the water and the energy are still there for the next user downstream.

    The noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, has mentioned the substantial and indeterminate charges levied on waterpower users, and that these discourage the production of this very form of power which is most desirable. He mentioned one case of how the rating had been increased so much. There is no appeal against the level of charges. I understand that the Welsh National Water Development Authority recently increased the water charges overnight from one small installation from approximately £50—and this is not a typing error—to £30,000 per annum, and only reduced them a fraction of the latter sum after a hitter battle through the press. This is the kind of thing that water users are having to put up with from people who have no, or very little, interest in energy conservation and very little knowledge of it. Therefore, I hope that the Government will look sympathetically at this amendment and at the principle behind it.

    5.56 p.m.

    In response to the invitation from my noble friend I rise to speak briefly to his amendment on the point which he mentioned. I would ask my noble friend Lord Gowrie to have a look at the legislation and practice in Scotland. Amendment No. 29, the consequential amendment to this, specifically excludes Scotland from this amendment. The reason, as I see it, is because the situation is already more satisfactory in Scotland. There exist there arrangements where surplus energy from private hydropower can be paid into the grid instead of being wasted. I may be out-of-date, but that is, I understand, still the position.

    In Scotland it is also provided that private hydropower does not meet the strong discouragement which my noble friend mentioned which appears to exist from the authorities south of the Border. I suggest that this is important at a time when increases in costs of energy and the need for conservation of other sources are particularly important for us. There is a paradox that the two Scottish boards feed their electricity into the United Kingdom grid, so it all ends up sensibly in the same system at the end of the day. Both the Scottish boards are generating and distributing electricity authorities in contrast to the electricity bodies south of the Border.

    The two electricity boards in Scotland do not come under the Department of Energy. I recognise that there is a difficulty about different Ministries, but when the Department of Energy was formed in January 1974 the electricity function of the Secretary of State for Scotland remained with him and was completely unaltered. I ask my noble friend to pursue this. I am sorry to have to say this, but it seems that the system in England and Wales appears less flexible and progressive than that in Scotland.

    There may be difficulties in England and Wales; I recognise that, and I certainly shall not go into them now. I know that there are difficulties about extracting water higher up a river and returning it a bit lower down, and indeed that some water authority may suddenly extract water above a hydro-electric station and then feel they have to pay compensation, or provide some kind of financial equivalent. I recognise that there may be difficulties and I accept that this Bill may not be the right Bill for making this change, but my noble friend has drawn attention to something which needs to be considered. There are difficulties which have to be overcome, but so far they seem to have been overcome rather better in Scotland. Therefore, the possibility of improvement appears to exist.

    I should like to support the amendment. It seems to me to he strange that we can talk about dirty water, about wasting water, but I never knew it exhausted the molecule of water. I do not see what happens to a molecule of water when it passes through a generating plant which would deprive it from further use. Since all of us in this room are still breathing molecules of oxygen which Julius Ceasar breathed when he crossed to England, I do not know whose water we would be using in the generators to come.

    6 p.m.

    I certainly support the spirit of the amendment, although I am not sure that the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, has brought it in at quite the right point in the legislation, in that what he is really seeking to do is to mitigate the effect of powers conferred on the water authorities by the Water Act 1973. The examples he gave showed that, apparently at any rate, very unreasonable increases were being made in the charges where somebody, as it would be expressed, abstracted water for use in power generation, thus making it totally uneconomic. I do not know whether the individuals concerned knew that would happen before embarking on what was presumably substantial capital expenditure.

    I see the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, shaking his head in dissent, which indicates another defect in the Water Act 1973; it should surely be possible, if some body is thinking of spending money on putting in generators, to discuss the matter in a preliminary way with the water authority to find out by how much the charge would be increased. It seems to me that that would be a matter best dealt with by means of an amendment to the 1973 Act, where these powers could be reduced, with some means of appeal being provided for the installer of water turbines who is aggrieved at the charges made on him in consequence of that use. If the noble Lord had sought to introduce an amendment to the Water Act 1973—which is presumably how it is being done in the Private Member's Bill he mentioned—one would then have agreed with both the letter and the spirit of it. I hope there is some way by which the noble Lord's proposals can be accomplished, but I am not sure this measure is the right way to do it.

    I support the amendment, which I think is extremely sensible, and I hope that if necessary my noble friend will press it to a Division.

    I wish to say at the outset how much I miss the support of my noble friend Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal on these Benches and how right he is in my view to plunge straight into the role of scrutiny and scourge of the Government's legislation, and I look forward to being flailed by him often, particularly if he continues on such a widely supported wicket as this one. The Government sympathise with much of the general thinking behind the amendment. The Government believe that small-scale hydro-electric power schemes can make a very worthwhile contribution to our energy supply and that the economics of small-scale hydro look promising enough to justify more evaluation. I am glad to say that the Department of Energy recently announced that it was examining specific schemes to establish the economics of small-scale hydro schemes and their suitability for demonstration of the latest technology in that field.

    The Government have had discussions with bodies such as the National Association of Water Power Users on the question of the charges made by water authorities in connection with small-scale hydro-electric schemes. The position is that three of the water authorities in England and Wales do not in fact charge for abstraction—"abstraction" is the term of art word in the water industry for what we would call "extraction"—for hydro-power generation, and the rest charge at their lowest rate. None the less, the National Association of Water Power Users and others believe that even these levels of charge can seriously undermine the economic viability of some small hydroelectric schemes. They point out that hydro-electric power generation restores water to the water-course undiminished in quantity and quality, as several noble Lords have mentioned.

    Section 30 of the Water Act 1973 sets out certain principles on which water authority charges should be based, among them the principle of non-discrimination between different categories of water user. This puts the Government in a slight fix; if we acceded to the eminently sensible suggestions which have been made by my noble friend and others, we might find ourselves altering in one Act a principle which had been established in another, and we would not want to do that in the context of this Bill—the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, made the point—without very great consideration and justification in our attempts to look at the legislation in the previous Act. However, I can tell my noble friend that we are looking at the possibility of using powers of discretion to see if they are compatible with the original 1973 Act and to see if we can get round the difficulty in that way.

    In view of the national importance of minimising dependence on fuel from fossil sources, the Government have already taken action to help members of the national Association of Water Power Users. The Department of the Environment made representations at Ministerial level to water authorities in England last month asking them to review their charges for abstractions for power generation, and the Welsh Office intend to approach the Welsh Water Authority in the near future. The Government believe that a defensible case can be made for making only a minimal charge for these abstractions, instead of charging on a volume-related basis. But the right way is surely to proceed by way of discussion with the water authorities, at any rate in the first instance, and these discussions have not yet been completed. In addition, the Department of the Environment is now looking carefully at the Secretary of State's powers to make directions to water authorities under Section 63 of the Water Resources Act 1963, and that might be another way of taking further the alleviation of these charges.

    I hope that in the light of those explanations of the Government's attitude, the steps that we are taking to make our views known to water authorities and the other steps that we are considering, my noble friend will feel able to withdraw the amendment. My noble friend said the charges were, some years ago, proposed to be increased from less than £100 to over £10,000. My advice is that no such dramatic increase has occurred. In the most extreme case in Wales, the Welsh Water Authority agreed to change its charging basis, and a much lower charge was finally settled.

    The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, mentioned the possibility of appeal. Clause 60 allows for an abstractor aggrieved by the refusal of a water authority to make an agreement with him to reduce his charges, or by the terms of such an agreement, to refer the matter to the Secretary of State, who must decide it. As for the case mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, in respect of Wales, that again may be a case which could currently come before the Secretary of State for Wales under this provision. I hope in the light of our very clearly stated sympathy for the aims which my noble friend has put forward and the practical steps we are taking to try to achieve those aims, he will meantime not press the amendment.

    My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that encouraging response and I certainly do not intend to press the amendment at this stage. However, I have certain remarks to make to him and I must say at the outset that I do not trust Governments. I do not trust them even when I am in them, and I am not in this one any longer. It is not satisfactory to resort to saying that we must have further discussions; this point to my certain knowledge has been raised for about five years, and even in Government that should have been enough time to resolve the matter had Government really wanted to. I have the feeling that a little awkward legislation has a wonderful capacity to concentrate the Government's mind.

    I am quite clear that the proper course for us today is to withdraw the amendment at this stage, but at the same time to remind my noble friend that I have been very grateful for the universal support that I have received in this Chamber for the amendment, or something like it. We should also consider whether or not we might return to the charge at a later stage in the Bill. I hope that that does not sound unreasonable; and I want to answer the point that my noble friend made about the question of water charges. I was, I hope, careful not to say that the charges had been levied; but they were certainly suggested, and the point is that it scared the hell out of the people who had been using water very cheaply for a very long time.

    I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, who pointed out that if one is considering embarking upon a water scheme, one of the first things that one needs to do is to discover what kind of charges are to be levied. It would save one a tremendous amount of trouble if one really knew with a degree of confidence that the charges were to be nominal only and were not to be, frankly, fairly serious imposts which were seriously proposed. Besides the question of whether or not the authorities that suggested those charges were doing so in genuine good faith, saying, "We are terribly sorry. These are imposed on us by the Water Act"—of 1963, incidentally; we keep on talking about 1973—it must be borne in mind that no local authority, particularly at the moment, minds receiving a little extra revenue which it was not expecting; and it can seldom resist the temptation.

    We need to protect a potential user—and I refuse to call him a consumer; nor do I want to call him either an abstractor or an extractor. One has to call him a user. We want to protect him against any possibility of being scared, or being prevaricated against. I think that all of us agree that this is something we would want to do. I am grateful to the noble Earl for his indication that he would wish to assist us, and I can only say to him that if we do not succeed in mutually satisfying ourselves before the next stage of the Bill, I might try to jog his arm a little harder to see whether or not he can assist us a little more. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    6.12 p.m.

    moved Amendment No.20:

    After Clause 15, insert the following new clause:

    (" Study and report on thermal insulation

    —(1) The Secretary of State shall—

  • (a) carry out a study of the potential energy savings to be gained from thermal insulation of existing domestic dwellings in England and Wales;
  • (b) determine financial, legal, institutional and other obstacles to increased thermal insulation of such dwellings;
  • (c) establish an annual target for the thermal insulation of such dwellings;
  • (d) formulate proposals and policies for meeting the target established under (c) above.
  • (2) The Secretary of State shall prepare a report on the matters mentioned in subsection (1) above within twelve months of the date of passing of this Act, and shall lay a copy of the report before each House of Parliament.").

    The noble Lord said: This amendment, like the last one, introduces a new subject to the Bill, but I am convinced that this amendment, too, falls within the scope of the Bill and its Long Title. The object of the amendment, as is fairly obvious, is to introduce into this country a plan for thermal insulation. As I said at an earlier stage, there is an urgent need for a concerted effort to try to save energy in this country. One of the major ways in which it can be saved, with great advantage both to the economy of the country as a whole and to individual citizens, is through thermal insulation of existing houses.

    I think that the scope here is recognised by the Department of Energy itself. The Secretary of State's Advisory Council on Energy Conservation has made calculations which show that an uninsulated house can lose up to 25 per cent. of its heat through the roof, 35 per cent. through the walls, 15 per cent. through draughts, and 10 per cent. through windows. I suspect that if one went on one could quite easily calculate a loss of about 110 per cent. The point is not that all these things happen at the same time, but rather that through any of the escape routes we can lose a lot of energy and that it is very much worth our while to try to prevent that.

    Obviously, much can be done by applying energy savings standards to new houses, but it is roughly estimated that at least three-quarters of the housing that we shall have in the year 2000 is already built. Yet the thermal efficiency of these buildings is not satisfactory and is certainly open to considerable improvement. For instance, of the 14 million houses with accessible lofts in both the private and public sectors, more than 5 million have no loft insulation whatsoever, and many more have insulation levels well below the official minimum standard, which in itself is not tremendously satisfactory.

    In a low energy strategy for the United Kingdom by the LIED it has been suggested that cost-effective domestic insulation of the nation's housing stock could realise annual energy savings of between 25 and 40 per cent., depending on the kind of building that we are thinking of: a flat, a semi-detached house, or a detached house. I do not believe that those figures have been seriously disputed.

    A 35 per cent. reduction in heat loss in dwellings in the United Kingdom would mean about an 8 per cent. saving in United Kingdom primary energy use—equivalent to a financial saving of £1,000 million a year at 1976 prices, and therefore considerably more at 1981 prices. It is, I suppose, worth noting in comparison that the cost of the entire building of one of the most enormously expensive, and I believe otherwise objectionable, nuclear power stations is of the same order as the annual savings that we arc suggesting could be made by a real campaign of thermal insulation.

    I think that the Government recognise many of those points, and recognise also that things need to be done. However, they are relying—and I believe far too greatly—on the basic market forces, the suggestion that if energy prices are raised, advice is provided, there is advertising, and grants are made available, matters will move, and move fairly quickly. I consider that that is underestimating the urgency of the situation, and we have put down the amendment because we believe that there is a very real need for the Government to take this particular part of the energy programme and organise a proper survey to be carried out, after which action can be taken. We have suggested that this should be done by the Secretary of State, though there are many other ways in which it could be done.

    Sometimes we have much sympathy with the Government and Ministers regarding some of the ways in which they want to lessen dabbling by Government in too many affairs, but I suggest that the whole question of energy is far too central, far too important, and far too urgent to be left without action being taken. It is time that the Government acted, and we suggest that this is the way that they should act. I beg to move.

    I should like to support the amendment, to which I have added my name. As the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, has said, the immense short- and long-term savings in energy consumption which could result from insulation of the nation's housing stock are recognised by both the Government and independent analysts, yet progress towards high national levels of insulation has been slow and patchy. The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, mentioned loft insulation, and I, too, have referred to that in previous debates. Today I should like to say a few words about double glazing. A study of the usage of multiple glazing in the EEC, at the request of the EEC Commission, shows that the potential energy conservation achieved by further double glazing in Europe amounts to between 1½and 2 per cent, of the European annual energy consumption—that is just for double glazing. It also shows-and I am sorry to keep on saying this—that the United Kingdom lags substantially behind every other member state in usage of double glazing and in the encouragement of double glazing by incentive, tax concessions and grants. The survey also showed that there are no climatic reasons for this differential.

    The time of construction is surely the cheapest time of all at which to insulate windows, and yet the draft of the new building regulations misses the opportunity to make double glazing mandatory and includes, indeed, an unjustifiable limit, in my view, on the permitted size of windows even when double glazed. This latter restriction arises from the failure adequately to take into account the solar gain factor, which is another form of heating. As I said, we lag behind most of our partners in the Community and our neighbouring states in Scandinavia in the incentive which the Government provide for insulation, and such little as we do in fact offer in the United Kingdom excludes double glazing, whereas all the continental schemes include double glazing as one of the insulation measures which qualify for grant aid, tax allowance or both.

    Then there is the question of zero-rating for double glazing. This, I think, is most important; but here again there was a decision by the VAT tribunal, which is now being appealed against by Customs and Excise. I think it is very important that this form of insulation, double glazing, should be zero-rated so that it is an incentive. I believe we think of double glazing really as a kind of luxury for rich people, as keeping out the noise; rather like some local authorities think of the refrigerator as a lot of ice clinking about in glasses—something rather luxurious instead, of course, of its being something essential to health. Double glazing is not only important for keeping out noise; it is also important for keeping in the heat. The Government must really try to concentrate their minds on this, and do something to help householders who will install it by seeing that it is zero-rated, and also in ensuring that some of the grants that are given are more in line with what our partners are doing in Europe.

    Perhaps I might add one or two words to those which have already been spoken by my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. I remember a couple of years ago raising the question of the IIED Report in your Lordships' House, and my noble friend has reminded me of its excellent proposals for a low-energy strategy for the United Kingdom. I wonder whatever happened to those proposals? During the term of office of the previous Administration, for several years running I asked for the Department of Energy to examine a zero-growth energy scenario to see what kind of energy consumption patterns we could afford within such a long-term scenario —whether, by the use of much better insulation, we could accommodate improved energy uses in other directions, such as we were discussing a few minutes ago. If my noble friend's estimates are correct, of something like an 8 per cent. reduction in primary energy consumption through adopting proper insulation standards in existing dwellings, then obviously, over the timescale that he was talking about, between now and the year 2000, we could afford to have a very substantial increase in the other uses of energy within the home without any overall rise in domestic energy consumption.

    But I wanted to add another point to that which my noble friend has already made, which I think is of some importance and which again follows an earlier debate that we had. Depending on how much of the energy used to heat homes is electrical, we have an additional saving through capital expenditure which is not necessary. If, by adopting these standards in existing dwellings, we reduce the amount of electricity that the inhabitants use to keep themselves comfortable in the winter, then we can reduce the generating board's capital investment programmes. Then we would have a saving, not just of the £1,000 million, or whatever it was that my noble friend mentioned, the cost of the primary energy that would be saved by this improved insulation, but probably a very much larger sum which we would not then have to invest in new generating plant and transmission equipment.

    I know that the Central Electricity Generating Board does not need to expand its output at all at the moment, and that the stations that we are about to embark upon are solely to keep the plant industry busy; but I think that if one is looking at the matter over a much longer period of time we might find that several thousand millions of pounds worth of expenditure by the generating board, and by the two Scottish boards as well, would be avoided if the type of work that my noble friend is suggesting were undertaken. Of course he is not suggesting that we should immediately insulate every existing dwelling to the standards that we are prescribing for the new ones. What he is saying here is that we should look at the whole situation and find out what are the constraints and the barriers against the kind of insulation that we already have in the case of new houses applying to existing dwellings. So that at this time of economic stringency my noble friend is not suggesting a huge programme of Government intervention to persuade everybody to put in loft insulation, double glazing and the rest. What he is saying is: Let us take the work that has been done by the IIED, apply the skills and expertise of the Department of Energy to it, see what we come up with and, once we have all the facts and everybody is agreed on them, we can decide how to tackle this enormous problem.

    While acknowledging the admirable intentions of those who have moved this amendment, may I suggest that paragraph (b), at any rate, is superfluous, particularly in view of the urgent need to reduce Government expenditure. The financial obstacle to increased thermal insulation of existing domestic dwellings in England and Wales is pretty obvious, and is already fairly well known. Of the various forms of insulation available, only loft insulation, draught proofing and just possibly cavity wall insulation in the case of those houses which have cavity walls—and, of course, a great many houses do not have it—are really cost-effective in the sense that the owner occupier or landlord, as the case may be, can see a reasonable return on his or her capital invested in this new form of insulation. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, mentioned double glazing, but double glazing is not really cost-effective, and I doubt that zero-rating would make very much difference. Surely we do not need a new Quango to establish these facts.

    6.28 p.m.

    The difficulty I am in is that I am in very substantial agreement with what many noble Lords have said, and, of course, the Government are interested, both literally and metaphorically, in energy conservation. But I am not sure that this particular Bill is the appropriate arena for what is being suggested, because I believe that this Bill will be most effective if it targets in on installations and appliances of the kind which we discussed in the earlier part of the debate. I would also argue that the Government already have a vigorous policy on domestic insulation, and that we do not, as it were, need to pursue it within the confines of this particular Bill other than in the way that we are seeking to add to it through the Bill. Of course we share the concern which underlies the amendment, the desire to see a reduction in the current levels of energy consumption in dwellings, but in practice the objectives of the amendment are already being tackled through other policies towards energy conservation.

    We already have a wide range of data—and the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, called for a survey—on the extent to which dwellings do or do not incorporate various kinds of thermal insulation. That knowledge has been refined in further work which is already in hand. Where more insulation is needed, our general view is that its installation will be encouraged if we get the price of energy right and if householders are offered constant and adequate advice. A great deal of such advice is available in the form of pamphlets produced by the Department of Energy and through newspaper and television advertising as well as in other ways.

    In the case of domestic installation, there is, in addition, a direct financial incentive already available to householders under the Homes Insulation Scheme in the form of grants for loft insulation and the tank and pipe lagging associated with it. If we leave aside the very cheap measures such as draught-stripping, where the cost of administering a grant would be disproportionate to the benefit, loft insulation is easily the most cost-effective basic measure that we could promote. It therefore makes sense to concentrate inevitably limited resources on that measure.

    I am glad that, as well as raising the general issues of people's desire not to be over-governed, my noble friend Lord Monson drew attention to the necessity to contain expenditure not least in the interests of conservation of energy and other resources. I think a lot of progress has been made and we have given further encouragement by two recent announcements: in August we introduced a special higher rate of grant for the elderly on low incomes so that they can now get up to 90 per cent. of the cost of materials and labour; and last month it was announced that the total money available for grants would be increased next year by 30 per cent. in real terms.

    The Committee will see that our commitment to energy conservation remains high. In addition, local authorities are insulating their own housing stock. Although there is no longer a separate allocation for this work, because the Government prefer to leave each authority free to decide its own housing priorities, this work is continuing on a significant scale: rather more, I would suggest, than one would imagine from reading the not disinterested press handouts—and why should they be?—of insulation manufacturers. The inclusion of thermal insulation in new housing, private and public, is guaranteed by the requirements of the building regulations; and the Government propose to make these more stringent in the near future because, again, while wishing to interfere as little as we can, we recognise the central national importance, as well as the importance to individual consumers, of saving fuel in the home. So we are moving steadily towards a situation in which new and existing housing will include thermal insulation up to the levels which are currently cost effective.

    On the issue of double glazing which the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, raised, a study from the Department of Energy has indicated that double glazing is only cost effective when it is in the main living room of a house and that very often it is installed on a do-it-yourself basis rather than being professionally installed; because that can add very considerable cost to the householder, although he or she should be free to make use of those services if they wish. What I am trying to say is that as energy prices rise and further research and development brings down the costs of technologically more advanced conservation measures, we shall encourage further insulation as it in turn becomes cost-effective.

    Before leaving the subject of double glazing, I wonder whether the noble Earl would agree that the cost effectiveness of double glazing, whether in the principal room of the dwelling or anywhere else, must depend on what are called the "degree days"— the number of days multiplied by the number of degrees that the temperature falls below a certain level. This varies considerably from one part of England and Wales to another. While double glazing may not be effective in the heart of London, where the temperature during the winter is reasonably high, if one were on the North East coast of England, then there might be a sound economic case for double glazing the whole dwelling.

    I take that point. Speaking for myself, I would view preliminary studies on the cost effectiveness of double glazing with some scepticism. I think the certain point is the point that I have mentioned earlier: that the first thing you should do in any part of the country is to insulate your loft. In this country heat escape through the roof is probably the biggest factor. If you should happen to live on the North-East coast, or in any part of the South of England but in an exposed position, you might consider that certain of your rooms would benefit very much from double glazing. What I think we are trying to signal to the consumer is that the double glazing industry is a perfectly respectable one but it is very competitive and very pushing (if you like) and it may occasionally give expectations as to savings which, while they may be justified in certain cases, would not be justified in others. Have a look at the loft first and go hit by bit.

    I myself have great hope of the development in the next decade or so of microchip meters which can tell you accurately what you are spending; and then, by experimenting with different forms of insulation in the house, you get a positive read-back on what the real costs are. I think that these technical changes are likely to take place over the next decade.

    We are in an area of continuous development and change. A major review geared to a given moment in time, as envisaged in this amendment, is therefore not appropriate as it cannot gear itself to such continuing change in the way that price signalling can do so. A clause of this kind does not seem to me to be needed to secure a Government commitment because, as I have tried to indicate, we are committed very heavily in cost terms already. We recognise the importance of the intention underlying the amendment, but we do not regard it as an appropriate addition in the context of this particular Bill.

    Before my noble friend replies, may I ask the noble Earl in view of what he said about double glazing why it is that in every European country on the Continent the incentives apply to all forms of domestic insulation; whereas the grants available in this country exclude double glazing? Our partners on the Continent attach importance to this. This seems to be a case where the United Kingdom is the only one in step.

    Not all, I agree; but some do. I do not have information as to the relative use of double glazing in this country and on the Continent. I do not in any way wish to discourage people from installing double glazing. Many people do so. Apart from questioning the general point made by this amendment which is not specifically geared to double glazing, I question whether that is not another instance where the right price signals, and people's response to them freely, are not the most appropriate way by which the same result might be achieved.

    The noble Earl has put the case very persuasively but I do not think he has really covered it. Let me assure the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that no Quango is the slightest bit involved. By definition, I think, the Secretary of State cannot himself be a Quango. It is he whom we are suggesting should do the things which are necessary here. Nor, I think, are we talking about any great sum of money. We know that a certain amount of study of potential energy savings has been done already. To turn that into a national one by extrapolation and other techniques would not cost very much. Nor would determining the obstacles, nor would establishing a target, nor would formulating proposals and policies. What we come up against here is a straight division between the Government and, certainly, those of us who occupy both sets of Benches on this side of the Committee. We think this is an absolutely genuine matter where the Government should be making a survey and not just leaving it to developments which no doubt will happen and will have some effect through the course of the market economy and through the new inventions which the noble Earl spoke about. I was most interested in what he was saying. This is a question where we differ on what should be in this Bill. There is no point in disguising it and I suggest that we test the opinion of the House.

    6.41 p.m.

    On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 20) shall be agreed to?

    Their Lordships divided: Contents, 34; Not-Contents, 50.


    Amherst, E.Hale, L.
    Ampthill, L.Hampton, L.
    Amulree, L.Hooson, L.
    Avebury, L.Houghton of Sowerby, L.
    Balogh, L.Kilmarnock, L.
    Beaumont of Whitley, L. (Teller.)Melchett, L.
    Ogmore, L.
    Birk, B.Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
    Bruce of Donington, L.Ritchie-Calder, L.
    Clifford of Chudleigh, L.Seear, B.
    Collison, L.Segal, L.
    Craigavon, V.Stone, L.
    Denington, B.Strabolgi, L.(Teller.)
    Fisher of Rednal, B.Tanlaw, L.
    Gaitskell, B.Taylor of Mansfield, L.
    George-Brown, L.Underhill, L.
    Gladwyn, L.White, B.
    Greenwood of Rossendale, L.


    Abercorn, D.Hornsby-Smith, B.
    Ailesbury, M.Inglewood, L.
    Airey of Abingdon, B.Lauderdale, E.
    Avon, E.Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
    Bethell, L.Long, V.
    Brougham and Vaux, L.Lucas of Chilworth, L.
    Cathcart, E.Lyell, L.
    Cockfield, L.Malmesbury, E.
    Colville of Culross, V.Marley, L.
    Colwyn, L.Monson, L.
    Cullen of Ashbourne, L.Morris, L.
    Denham, L.(Teller.)Mottistone, L.
    Digby, L.Mowbray and Stourton, L.
    Drumalbyn, L.Norfolk, D.
    Ellenborough, L.Orkney, E.
    Ferrers, E.Orr-Ewing, L.
    Glasgow, E.St. Aldwyn, E.
    Glenarthur, L.Sandys, L.
    Gowrie, E.Shannon, E.
    Greenway, L.Skelmersdale, L.
    Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)Strathclyde, L.
    Sudeley, L.
    Swinfen, L.
    Halsbury, E.Trefgarne, L.
    Han worth, V.Tweeddale, M.
    Henley, L.Westbury, L.

    Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

    6.49 p.m.

    moved Amendment No. 21:

    After Clause 15, insert the following new clause:

    (" Amendment of Electricity Act 1957

    . After subsection (5) of section 2 of the Electricity Act 1957, there shall be added the following subsection—

    "(5A) In executing its duties under subsection (5) of this section, the Generating Board shall promote economy and efficiency in the use of energy and shall, in particular, further the development of methods by which heat obtained from or in connection with the generation of electricity may be used more efficiently for the heating of buildings, or for any other useful purpose.".").

    The noble Lord said: The use of various power sources to provide combined heat and power for the heating of buildings and, indeed, of towns and villages, is something which has not gone very far in this country. District heating of this particular kind is much more widespread in various European countries. Roughly 20 per cent. of Sweden's space and water heating is by district heating of which the largest amount comes from combined heat and power. The same is true, roughly speaking—there are some similar figures—in Scandinavia; and to a certain extent this also happens in the Soviet Union. They are all, of course, colder countries than Great Britain is on the whole.

    Now that we need to look at energy conservation it is quite clear that one of the obvious areas that we need to look at is the most enormous wastage of energy which comes from electricity generation—and there is a very great deal of it. This amendment is based on a clause which was put forward for inclusion in the abortive Electricity Bill of 1978; that was put forward by the Labour Government. The reason why we have chosen this particular method for putting forward combined heat and power is that seemingly the Central Electricity Generating Board has no remit to go beyond producing electricity. It does not have a remit to use its waste products. For that reason, it can well be forgiven if it does not spend a very great deal of time and trouble on trying to do something about it. But in the national interest, it is very important that we have combined heat and power and that we are able to use that where it is appropriate.

    I know that there has been a report on this—the Marshall Report, Energy Paper 35—and that it came to the conclusion that CHP could save energy and could be a viable option for heating buildings in areas of high density heat load, particularly in the longer term. I think that in some of its other findings it was over pessimistic. It did not really stop to consider some of the alternative costs that there might be in providing energy in other ways and it assumed some technologies which have now been superseded.

    Be that as it may, I should have thought that there was a very strong case, if we are to go forward with combined heat and power—and I hope that we are; I think this is common ground on all sides of the Committee—for giving a body which already deals with these matters, and which produces a great deal of the energy which would go towards this heating, a clear, statutory obligation to promote and use it. If we did that, we would find that matters went ahead remarkably fast and the results could be nothing less than phenomenal.

    I am not pretending that it is easy to convert to combined heat and power. It is not. I am not pretending that we shall be able to do a very great deal very quickly. I do not think that we shall, particularly in our economic state. But the fact remains that the average conversion efficiency of the CEGB's power stations is just under 30 per cent., and that, if you use combined heat and power, primary fuels can be utilised with an overall efficiency of up to 85 per cent. It is this kind of difference that we must overcome, if we are not to waste our basic fuels. They are finite and, if we do not take the utmost steps that we can to conserve them now, we shall regret it in the future. I think that this is a sensible but very minor step to take. I beg to move.

    I should like to support this amendment. As my noble friend Lord Beaumont has said, under the 1957 Act it is the central duty of the Central Electricity Generating Board to provide an efficient, co-ordinated and economical system of supply of electricity. But here the accent is on the word "electricity". That is quite understandable, since the 1957 Act was passed nearly 25 years ago and, of course, things have changed. Our whole concept of energy conservation has changed in that quarter of a century.

    As the noble Lord has said, the amendment is based on a clause in the Electricity Bill of 1978, which came to nothing because of the election, and I think that there is every case for having another look at it. We shall be interested to hear the Government's view.

    This is another case where the Government are in complete accord with both noble Lords who have spoken. But, of course, it will be no surprise, also, that we do not feel that the beauty of this accord needs expression in this Bill, because there is already a duty to investigate and conduct research among the duties which are already laid on the Central Electricity Generating Board, under Section 50 of the Electricity Act 1947, and the amendment quotes much of this section verbatim.

    Like both noble Lords who have spoken, I am very keen on the development of combined heat and power in this country, and the Government hope to announce shortly a number of local authority areas where feasibility work on CHP schemes will be carried out. I might remind the Committee that on 2nd April last year my right honourable friend the Secretary of State announced the action that the Government would be taking in the light of Dr. Walter Marshall's recommendations in the Marshall group's report. It was decided on energy policy grounds that CHP was an option that should be kept open, and that the next stage was to establish a programme of work to test the feasibility in particular locations, where the local authority concerned expressed an interest in becoming a lead city. I seem to remember having the privilege of telling the House about that move last year.

    Messrs. Atkins and Partners started work in August as the department's lead consultant for the first stage of this programme. They have now completed the first part of this stage, producing a report which gives their recommendations on the areas which should be the subject of more detailed appraisal. We shall be considering this report, along with the comments made on it by the interested local authorities, and announcing our decision shortly. The electricity supply industry is participating fully in the programme of work. Legislation is not required to enable them to participate, although all the legislative aspects of CHP development will, as I have said, be kept under review as the programme goes forward.

    On a different scale, it is rather like our attitudes to double glazing which I expressed earlier in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. We are thoroughly in favour of it, but we find that there is sufficient activity in this area to warrant, in the case of double glazing the Government keeping back. In the case of CHP, the Government and local authorities are, of course, much more intimately involved. I acknowledge that it is possible that at some stage further legislation will be desirable to govern the development of CHP in this country. But I do not think anyone argues that this stage has yet been reached, and we do not see any real purpose in re-enacting existing legislative provisions which are already substantially enforced in this Bill.

    I am not totally convinced by the noble Earl's arguments. It seems to me that he has not at all put up a case against making this amendment, except that it is unnecessary, and I do not think he has proven that entirely. I still think that to give the CEGB a statutory duty in this field would be a useful step. But I do not think that it is worth arguing about. I appreciate that the Government are going forward in this field and I am delighted that they are. If the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, agrees, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clauses 16, 17 and 18 agreed to.

    Clause 19 [ Enforcement of orders under Part I]:

    7 p.m.

    moved amendment No. 22:

    Page 17, line 6, leave out ("examine any appliance, inspect") and insert ("inspect any appliance, and").

    The noble Earl said: The amendment removes the power of an enforcement officer to examine an appliance for the purpose of ascertaining whether any offence under an order made under Part I of the Bill has been committed, and substitutes for this power to examine the power to inspect an appliance. The difference is, simply, that the power to examine includes the power to test; the power to inspect does not.

    This is a very minor change. We have had representations from a trade association to the effect that the powers in Clause 19(2)( a) as at present drafted are not entirely appropriate. At present this clause would give enforcement officers, who will generally be local authority trading standards officers, the power to examine appliances for the purpose of ascertaining whether an offence under an order made under Part I of the Bill has been committed. Clause 26 provides that the power to examine includes the power to test but, as I explained during the Second Reading debate, we envisage that enforcement officers will simply make visual checks, primarily to see that the appliances which ought to bear type approval marks do in fact bear them. Therefore the amendment is intended to reflect this position. I beg to move.

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.

    Clauses 20 to 25 agreed to.

    Clause 26 [ Interpretation]:

    Page 21, line 22, at beginning insert—

    (" ( ) In this Act "supply" means, in relation to any appliance, supply in the course of a business, whether by way of sale, hire, loan, hire-purchase (that is to say, under a hire-purchase agreement) exchange or gift; but where the person supplying an appliance to another person under a hire-purchase agreement, conditional sale agreement, credit sale agreement or hiring agreement (other than a hire-purchase agreement)—
  • (a) carries on the business of financing the provision of goods for others by means of such agreements (whether or not that business is confined to financing the provision of appliances of the description in question); and
  • (b) in the course of that business acquired his interest in the appliance supplied to that other person as a means of financing the provision of that appliance for the other person by a third person;
  • the person providing the appliance and not the actual supplier shall be treated for the purposes of this Act as supplying the goods to the other person.")

    Page 21, line 25, leave out ("has the meaning given in") and insert ("credit-sale agreement' and 'hire-purchase agreement' have the meanings given by section 189(1) of")

    Page 21, line 25, leave out lines 33 and 34.

    Page 21, line 38, at end insert ("and")

    Page 22, line 9, leave out from ("purpose)") to end of line 13.

    The noble Earl said: I spoke to Amendments Nos. 23 to 27 with Amendment No. 14. Therefore I beg to move Amendments Nos. 23 to 27 en bloc.

    On Question, amendments agreed to.

    Clause 26, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 27 agreed to.

    Clause 28 [ Citation]:

    7.5 p.m.

    moved Amendment No. 28:

    Page 22, line 31, leave out ("Energy Conservation") and insert ("Heat Generator (Efficiency) and Miscellaneous Energy Provisions").

    The noble Lord said: I touched earlier on this amendment. Despite the very strong and very welcome commitment that the noble Earl the Minister has given to energy conservation in all that he has said this evening, I do not think that this Bill is really worthy of its rather grandiose Title. I do not think the Government have done very much by way of legislation. They would, I think fairly, answer that their way of coping with the problem is not so much through legislation as through other channels. That is something which we can certainly appreciate, even those of us who think that more legislation is in fact needed.

    To claim that as a result of this an energy conservation Bill is being put on the statute book is a little grandiose. Therefore both the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, and I have put down this amendment to call it by what we think is a more accurate name: the Heat Generator (Efficiency) and Miscellaneous Energy Provisions Bill. The noble Earl the Minister has already told us that he has a satisfactory answer and we look forward to hearing it. I beg to move.

    I should like to support what my noble friend Lord Beaumont of Whitley has said. I agree with him that the Title is misleading and grandiose. I feel very strongly that the Titles of Bills should describe what they set out to do. Too often in modern history they have been used for quite other purposes. A Bill entitled "Energy Conservation" looks very good from the point of view of the Conservative Party, just as the Bill entitled "Consumer Protection" looked very good from the point of view of the Labour Party when they were in Government from 1964 to 1970. I was not a member of that Administration so 1 can speak freely. It was a Bill which protected the consumer but it also protected the supplier, the manufacturer, the advertising agents, the retailer and a lot of other people. Due to help from the noble Lord, Lord Airedale—I am sorry he is not here today —and other noble Lords, we had its Title changed from Consumer Protection Bill to Trade Descriptions Bill—which indeed it was. The Labour Government of the day accepted the point we made and changed the name of the Bill.

    Another point is that when, years hence, you come to the index of Acts of Parliament, it is very important that those Acts should be in their right place. Lawyers, and so on, 20 to 30 years hence will try to find the Act which deals with the efficiency of heat generators. They are not going to find it under "E"—under "Energy conservation". Therefore, I think there is a strong case for the present Government following the precedent of the former Labour Government and changing the Title of the Bill to describe what it attempts to do.

    I take the point of both noble Lords. Nevertheless, in both parties we have perhaps advanced in recent years beyond the stage where we rest our appeal to the public simply upon the quantity of legislation passed, or upon its title. Perhaps one achieves more popularity now by telling the public that one has passed less rather than more legislation. I do not think therefore that this is a sinister attempt by a particular political administration to try to indicate that it is delivering more than it is able to. What we are trying to achieve in this title is brevity, concision and accuracy of description.

    The Bill certainly is about conserving energy and it tries to achieve it in an expeditious and cost-effective way. The proposed rewording mentions heat generators but not gas appliances; so historians looking for gas appliances, supposing they were so inclined, would it seems to me be equally misled. I should have thought they would be looking for both heat generators and gas appliances in the context of what this economy as a whole was doing about energy conservation.

    I acknowledge that many other aspects of the Government's overall energy policies are not covered by this Bill, but it is fair for me to ask the Committee to acknowledge that supposing we had a massive "Energy Conservation Bill" which contained all aspects of our energy conservation policy, it would be quite incompatible with other bits of legislation that exist, whether put on the statute book by Conservative or Labour Administrations, and which have the same worthy aims. Surely a policy is a grand design, of which a constituent piece of legislation is a component part. One Administration of a particular political character may try to give a special impact or special drive to that design. But when we look at energy conservation in the general sense we see that Governments of both political persuasions have in recent years found the most urgent national interests, as have other western nations, in trying to conserve energy in this country. Therefore, I think it would be quite impossible to correlate all the housing regulations or all the social security provisions relating to energy conservation in a Bill of this kind.

    I think I must rest on that general, if rather subjective, view. I cannot think of a better title, in that the Bill is about energy conservation and it says so. I am sorry if it appears to suggest a rather wider area than the area it covers, but I think common sense would suggest that energy conservation is such a general issue that it could never be covered entirely in one Bill. 1 am honestly bothered by the proposed re-wording, which mentions heat generators but not gas appliances, which are also covered by Part I of the Bill. I prefer to leave it at that.

    When the noble Earl said earlier that he hoped to have an argument to convince us, I thought it would be a little more persuasive than that. I thought he would be pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Incidentally, the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, very kindly refers to me as his "noble friend" does not mean that the noble Earl the Minister should presume that there are only two parties in the House. The tendency in politics at the moment is rather the other way. But, in the circumstances, I do not think it is worth arguing about the title and if the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, agrees, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendment No. 29 not moved.]

    House resumed: Bill reported with the amendments.