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Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations (Amendment) Order 2011

Volume 733: debated on Tuesday 6 December 2011

Motion to Approve

Moved By

That the draft order laid before the House on 14 November be approved.

Relevant documents: 33rd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, 44th Report from the Merits Committee, considered in Grand Committee on 5 December.

My Lords, before the Motion is put to the House, I should like to draw to the attention of the House the fact that the report of the Merits Committee on this order was published last Thursday. Nine noble Lords then debated the order yesterday in the Moses Room so we all expected that some notice would be taken. This morning the order appeared on the Order Paper and so there has been no opportunity to consider what was said in the Moses Room. This does not reflect well on the House or show that the Government really value the opinions of Peers before they place matters on the Order Paper.

My Lords, I should like to echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw. Surely it must be an insult to those of us who spent 90 minutes yesterday in the Moses Room in that the noble Earl agreed to come back to several of us on many major points at issue on this extremely complex subject. Now, less than 24 hours later, we are being asked on the Floor of the House to agree to the order.

My Lords, the Minister had a difficult time with this order yesterday, not least because, as the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, indicated, the Merits Committee took a rather dim view of its inadequacies. Her Majesty’s Opposition think that this order should go through because of the real urgency of the position for the industry. But what I sought to point out yesterday, and what other noble Lords pointed out more forcefully than I did, were the inadequacies of the instrument. I am certainly of the view that we should let it go through today but I hope that the Minister will take on board the fact that the criticisms yesterday were serious ones and that we expected the Government to have taken a more definitive position on the issue so as to reassure the industry in circumstances where underinvestment in this very important sector is occurring because of a complete lack of confidence in government policy. The Minister should therefore not be surprised that he is being pressed further today, as indeed he was yesterday.

My Lords, I do not often find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, but on this occasion he is about 110 per cent right.

My Lords, I accept the thrust of what noble Lords are saying. Regrettably this order is on a very tight timescale for a variety of reasons. I would like to make it clear that I very much value what noble Lords are saying. Yesterday, in Grand Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, said, at col. GC 160 of the Official Report, that the Opposition support the measure “inadequate” though it is. By using the word “inadequate”, I take it that he meant that the order deals only with sustainability and not the trajectory of biofuel take-up. I did of course deal with that point yesterday, and was very happy to do so.

With regard to the issue of used cooking oil, I recently answered an Oral Question on that and I agreed to write on a number of points. I am not known for speaking at length, but I spent 23 minutes responding to the debate yesterday despite the pleading looks from my noble friend Lady Verma. Relevant letters are nearly ready despite their complexities. My expectation is that I will send out all the letters strictly relevant to the order by the end of the week at the latest and some may well be sent tomorrow. I accept that the timescale is tight, but I think it is better to agree the Motion now rather than go right up to the wire later. I beg to move.

Motion agreed.