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Lords Chamber

Volume 829: debated on Tuesday 28 March 2023

House of Lords

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Derby.

Ports and Airports: Queues


Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to reduce queues at ports and airports for United Kingdom citizens returning to the UK.

The Government have an ambitious vision for the future UK border, which will put in place the world’s most effective and secure border system. We are already using automation and trialling other technologies to improve fluidity and minimise queues for all arriving passengers, without compromising on our number one priority: the security of the border.

Last year we had the absurdity, particularly at holiday times, of having to queue to get back into our own country. Can the Government guarantee that this year at holiday times we will not have that indignity?

I am afraid I simply do not agree with the picture that the noble Lord paints. Border Force plans extensively at both local and regional levels to ensure the smoothest possible journey for all passengers, with over 90% of passengers processing through the UK border in 30 minutes or less. I remind the noble Lord that there are, on average, 144 million crossings each year at the UK border. An estimated 86% of those passengers who travel through the UK border are eligible to use the automated e-passport gates, which are currently our automated solution for processing arriving passengers.

My Lords, it was impossible not to notice what an efficient job members of the Armed Forces did when they replaced members of Border Force during the recent strike period. Indeed, some passengers are rather hoping there might be more strikes over the busy summer period. But that to one side, this is not a job for members of our Armed Forces. The MACA—military aid to the civil authorities—rules are very clear that members of the Armed Forces should be used only in extremis. Can my noble friend reassure me that contingency plans are in place to ensure that this does not happen again?

Well, I thank the noble Lord for his generous remarks about the effectiveness with which the contingency plans to deal with strikes in the Border Force succeeded in ensuring adequate—indeed, efficient—flow through the border. I can reassure him that there are certainly no plans, in a non-strike scenario, for members of the Armed Forces to replace members of Border Force. It might assist the noble Lord to know that we have in place plans to further digitise and automate the border, such that in due course the operation of e-gates will be completed solely by facial recognition and there should be no need to place your passport on the e-gate. Ultimately, we wish to simply use facial recognition alone, without the need for an e-gate. But these are, of course, all in the future.

A week ago, I suggested to the Minister that a short-term fix, at least, would be to have a separate fast-track queue for British citizens, as distinct from EU citizens. The Minister said they were included because they were “our friends”. However, the friendship is not reciprocated, and we have many friends around the world. I put it to the Minister again: why can we not have a separate fast-track line for British citizens?

As I say, and as I said to the noble Baroness on the last occasion, we take the view that it is more efficient in terms of flow for all the categories that are allowed to use the e-gate to do so. That includes our friends in America, the Five Eyes nations, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. They may all use the e-gates and this accelerates the flow through our airports. There is nothing to be gained in the view of the Home Office by providing lanes on the basis that the noble Baroness adumbrates. I can reassure her that we are not in the business of retaliating when countries wish to include British nationals in a separate queue.

My Lords, in the meantime, while we wait for the nirvana which the Minister has outlined—I have waited for well over an hour just to get through an e-gate—one of the things that could be done is to improve the software so that you do not have to attempt once, twice, three times in order to get your passport to work. The number of failures in that system is so great that it is, in fact, creating queues artificially. As the Minister will know, now that 10 year- olds can use the e-gates, we are going to have more people queueing, more second attempts, and more third attempts. Will the Government do something about the software while we wait for this nirvana?

I hate to point out to the noble Lord that in many cases a failure of the passport to be read by the e-gate is often due to a lack of care taken with the passport by the owner. In many cases, I am afraid the e-gate works perfectly well. In due course, we plan for the e-gates to open simply on recognition of the noble Lord’s face.

If the system is so good, why have airports introduced a system for people to pay extra to get through quickly, because they experience long delays and the only way they can get through quickly is by paying extra charges to the airport?

I do not know about that; I will look into it. As far as I know, the airport layout is a matter for the owner of the airport. If one pays for some sort of particular access to the border gates, that is something that the airport will do. It is certainly not the case that you can pay Border Force for quicker access across the border.

My Lords, does the Minister accept that at least some of the problems are caused by people with pre-settled and settled status under the EU settlement scheme and that they are exacerbated because there is no physical proof of that; there is only electronic proof, which causes problems with the borders? There is a lot of anecdotal evidence and we hope to report on that relatively soon. Does he accept that that is part of the problem?

It should not be a problem, in that holders of EU settled status obviously are entitled to an EU passport, which is capable of being read by our e-gates. Of itself, the existence of EU status is not an issue. The issue arises in only those cases where those people who are entitled to EU settled status do not hold a valid EU passport—and that is a small cohort, but one which we are looking into.

My Lords, whatever the causes may be for queues as they arise at ports and airports, the people working there can come under great pressure as those queues and stress levels rise. Can the Minister say what support is being given to those who work at our borders to safeguard their well-being in the midst of all this pressure?

I can certainly reassure the right reverend Prelate that the Home Office takes very seriously its obligations for the well-being of its staff both in Border Force and Immigration Enforcement. I will write to her with the detail of that.

My Lords, I would like to support the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Deech. I visited Washington last week and, while waiting in the queues, the whole line of US citizens was being marched through and looked after. We ought to be looking after our citizens in the UK in the same way. I finish by saying that, when I came back to the UK, I waited about two minutes to get through the automatic gates and did not have to wait at all.

I am grateful to my noble friend. The issue as I understand it is that the legal framework for border crossing in America requires a face-to-face interaction with every passenger; that is the reason for the generation of queues on the other side of the Atlantic. That is not the case here. We use automation and believe that it delivers a faster and more secure border. As for the Americans allowing their own nationals to circumvent the face-to-face interview, that seems to be the logical corollary of their legal scenario; but that would not be relevant here, given the presence of automation.

The Minister has told us that border security is the Government’s number one priority, which, of course, is right. Will he comment on media reports that an email was sent to Customs staff asking them to prioritise passports over checks for drugs and other such illegal items?

My Lords, is there any intention of restricting the right to strike of Border Force officers in the interests of security?

I thank the noble Lord for that question—yes, under the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, Border Force is envisaged as being subject to the legislation and regulations could be made requiring minimum service levels on the part of Border Force staff.

Jurors: Mental Health Impact


Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the emotional, psychological and mental health impact on jurors of sitting in serious criminal trials.

My Lords, research into the impact of jury service has found that most people enjoy their service and find the experience interesting and informative. We know that some people can find it distressing. Anyone feeling this way is encouraged to contact their GP, who can put them in touch with the necessary support services. We are currently looking at options, including providing guidance to courts, to explore what more can be done.

I am grateful to my noble and learned friend for that Answer but there are now increasing reports in the media of those having adverse reactions to the evidence that they are hearing, and the type of evidence they are having to hear is more graphic and often video footage. Will my noble and learned friend outline whether there are plans to have a proper systemic review of a court centre and talk to jurors before, and particularly after, their experience to see whether people are being adversely impacted by doing jury service?

My Lords, the latest research was done by Professor Cheryl Thomas in 2020: 81% of those who had served on a jury said that they would be “happy to serve again”; 78% found it “interesting”. At the same time, it is quite true that 42% found the experience “stressful”. It is an issue, and the department is exploring options. What shape those options will take—whether there should be some sort of counselling service, whether it should be authorised by a judge and who would provide it—are all questions currently under consideration.

Does the Minister agree that everything depends on the nature of the trial? If you are asking jurors to hear a case involving graphic evidence of sex abuse, it really is not good enough to say that, if they are troubled, they can go to their GP. The same is surely true of the judges who have to hear such cases on a regular basis, it is true of the court staff and it is also true of the counsel and solicitors who specialise in this area. Really, something needs to be done about this.

My Lords, as I say, the Government are exploring options. Sometimes a judge will warn jurors in advance that it is distressing and ask whether any of them wish to be discharged. There is a post-trial leaflet and an interesting video, which I watched yesterday, for jurors after the trial, which suggests what they should do if they feel stressed. Some courts of their own volition make references to local charities, and we are providing further guidance to courts on what to do in those circumstances.

My Lords, I will come to the assistance of the Minister because he has been a practitioner in the courts, as I have. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, is not someone who practises in front of juries—

—but it is commonplace now for judges to say to a jury that a case is of a sexual nature or involves homicide or murder where the facts are particularly troubling and gruesome, and to ask: “If any of you have any reason why you feel could not sit on such a case, then please come forward and tell me”. You can have a juror say, “I have had an experience in my past which will make this particularly difficult”. Judges will take the opportunity to say that the juror does not have to sit. That is commonplace in serious cases now. I ask the Minister: should it not be an obligation on the Crown to inform a court and the judge who is sitting that a case may be very disturbing for jurors, so that they can step forward and withdraw from sitting as a juror on that particular case?

My Lords, I am entirely in agreement with the noble Baroness that in most cases of this kind judges will warn jurors in advance. That should generally be done, and I think it is for the judge to decide.

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, raises a very important issue. We ask citizens to perform this important public service and increasingly, as she said, it can be harrowing and traumatic. At present, as the Minister said, HM Courts & Tribunals Service tells jurors only that they can consult their GP or the Samaritans, who counsel potential suicides. The noble Baroness is right that professional counselling must be available where necessary. Will the Minister arrange such counselling and ensure that its availability is known to potential jurors at the time they are summoned so that they can see what the potential dangers are and consider their position, and have the information available throughout?

My Lords, I do not think that I can add to my earlier Answer that the Government are currently considering all options. Roughly 100,000 people serve on a jury every year; most, as I have just said, find the experience interesting and informative, and the Government will keep this under close review.

My Lords, it is helpful to see what happens in Scotland. The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service provides specialist assistance in cases of particularly violent and distressing crimes. It is available in the court. It is available to jurors, who may not realise, even given the warnings that have been referred to, that the scenes they are going to have to view repeatedly as a juror as the evidence goes on are particularly distressing. Will the Minister have a look at what happens in Scotland and perhaps follow its example?

My Lords, I will gladly look at what happens in Scotland—I believe there is a service provided through NHS Lothian. I am not sure I can undertake to follow a Scottish example; Northern Ireland has a counselling association associated with its employee assistance programme. We are exploring a number of options.

My Lords, is not the criminal justice system unusual among public services because it depends on volunteers, or at least non-professionals, for the vast majority of the work? Jurors are present in our most serious cases and magistrates hear the overwhelming number of criminal cases. Will my noble and learned friend the Minister therefore ensure that His Majesty’s Government look at both these groups of non-professionals and ensure that they are given the financial and non-financial support they need?

My Lords, lay participation in justice, whether through the jury, the magistracy or, I would add, membership of tribunals, is at the heart of the common-law system and the Government will fully support that participation.

My Lords, judicial officeholders, their partners and their children are offered helpline support 24/7 for 365 days a year through the Ministry of Justice. There is no equivalent for jurors. Arguably, judicial officeholders are better placed to withstand the pressures of their role because they have the support of their peer group. When jurors leave the court, they are on their own. Does the Minister think that this should change and the Government should offer the same support to jurors as is offered to judicial officeholders?

My Lords, the Government can accept that there is a case for offering further support for jurors who have been through very distressing cases. I should perhaps observe that jurors have been trying distressing cases now for hundreds of years so we are not in a new situation. A 24-hour helpline may be one of the options that we should explore.

I ask the Minister that those who look at whether or not jurors should be helped are shown some of the sorts of photographs that jurors may have to see, because they would be pretty shocked.

My Lords, does the Minister share my concern and surprise that no one has mentioned the welfare of police officers who have to sit through hours of usually pornographic material involving children, which can have a tremendous effect on their stress levels?

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, makes me think: if Boris Johnson is brought to trial, would it be possible to volunteer for the jury?

My Lords, how on earth is one supposed to answer that question? Fortunately, as far as I know, that does not arise—or it certainly does not arise yet.

Would it be offered to jurors who served on a jury in relation to the late Prime Minister? I do not think I can answer that question.

My Lords, many horrible things happen in life and have done so for decades and decades. Does the Minister believe that we need to think that people need to be a little more robust? I certainly found in the Navy when things had happened that if you asked people whether they had been affected, they would tell you they had been affected, but if you did not ask them, they just got on with their job.

My Lords, it is unusual to have so many opportunities to agree with noble Lords opposite. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord West. Although we have had a moment of levity in this Question, I respectfully remind your Lordships of what the late Lord Devlin famously said:

“Trial by jury is … the lamp that shows that freedom lives”.

The Government entirely agree with that and will support juries as much as is needed.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus Immunisation


Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the NHS and vaccine manufacturers regarding expanding the Respiratory Syncytial Virus immunisation programme for winter 2023/24, and the potential for making a universal offer of that vaccine.

My Lords, the Joint Committee on Immunisation and Vaccination has advised that the existing targeted RSV immunisation offer should move to a more effective and longer-lasting monoclonal antibody. The Government are in conversation with the manufacturer and the NHS to support this change in time for the 2023-24 winter season. The JCVI is actively reviewing the evidence around other available products and the potential for universal RSV offers as soon as practicable.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer. He will be aware that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recently recognised the importance of a universal immunisation programme to help protect all infants from RSV. There is an issue around the budget, so will the Minister clarify for your Lordships’ House what discussions he and his colleagues have had with the Chancellor about the budget for a universal RSV immunisation programme for the 2023-24 winter programme?

My Lords, I have not discussed the universal RSV immunisation programme for 2023-24 with the Chancellor. However, the independent expert committee, the JCVI, provides the Government with advice on all immunisation programmes, including RSV. For the current year, this advice is to improve the existing targeted programme for children at high risk. Once the JCVI has concluded its robust review of evidence for an expanded or universal programme, I will support the implementation of any changes advised as soon as practicable. This would include talking to the Chancellor to seek budgetary support for a potential programme. I offer the noble Baroness a meeting with the relevant officials following this Question to discuss this important matter further, if that would be helpful.

My Lords, as my noble friend will be aware, the RSV vaccine was mostly given to pre-term and premature babies. As he said, a new vaccine is available that will last longer than the previous one. Therefore, can my noble friend the Minister say exactly how the Government will improve the uptake across all immunisation programmes and age groups?

The Government are committed to child health. After clean water, vaccination is the most effective public health intervention for saving lives and promoting good health. The Government work with the NHS and the UK Health Security Agency to support accurate and up-to-date information on the benefits of vaccines to be available to parents, carers and patients. The NHS has recently concluded a call and recall campaign, where parents, carers and anyone aged one to six who has missed their measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for any reason were invited to their GP to catch up with vaccinations.

My Lords, in thanking the Minister for his positive and constructive response to the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, I press him further on talks he might have with the Treasury and whether he has seen the data that suggests that up to 30,000 paediatric hospital admissions are attributable to RSV each year, while nearly 500,000 GP visits cost the NHS almost £16 million annually and there could be a saving of £80 million to the wider UK economy each year if there were a universal immunisation programme. Does the Treasury not need to hear those kinds of figures?

I am grateful to the noble Lord, whose figures are entirely correct. There are currently no specific treatments for RSV once contracted, and management of infection is purely supportive. Cancellation of surgery such as that for heart disorders, a common consequence of paediatric intensive care pressures from RSV, is a very big issue for the NHS because it adds pressure during the winter. The noble Lord is exactly right to highlight that, and we are doing all we can to relieve this. As I said to the noble Baroness, we hope to have some good news later in the year.

My Lords, I welcome the £277 million announced today by the Government for innovative life sciences manufacturing, which includes vaccines. Can the Minister update us on the implementation of other steps in the life sciences vision, including more rapid uptake of innovative therapeutics in the NHS?

My noble friend is clearly up to date. She is absolutely right that the NHS constantly looks for innovations. For RSV, the offer in place for 2023-24 is for the specialised commissioning for NHS purchases of monoclonal antibodies directly from the manufacturers. The NHS delegates price and delivery with the manufacturers. For national immunisation programmes, the UK Health Security Agency procures immunisation products centrally, but I reassure the House that the NHS does all it can to make sure that it is aware of new developments to incorporate in the vaccination programmes.

My Lords, in the last week, the Minister may have seen financial reports about the challenges facing some vaccine manufacturers, now that the Covid demand is much reduced. What do the Government intend to do to ensure that we have capacity in the UK to develop new vaccines at scale in response to this and any other future challenge?

There are ongoing conversations with the manufacturers of various antibodies and vaccines for the year 2023-24. I am not familiar with the companies that the noble Baroness referred to, but I am very happy to look into them.

My Lords, maximising new vaccinations for RSV for babies and older people in the next winter season is vital, given that it will be just one of the many similar respiratory and related illnesses facing patients and the health service during this winter and the next. Can the Minister reassure the House that the Government are making full use of the public information budget to raise awareness of RSV, Covid, flu and strep A, in particular the differences between them and the steps that people do and do not need to take in each case?

The noble Baroness raises a very good point. She is absolutely right that the Government and the NHS have to use all media channels to make sure that people are aware of what is available. We have some new products coming through, one example of which is nirsevimab, which provides longer-term protection than its recently used predecessor of five months compared to one month. We try to communicate these, so that people do not have to go so regularly for immunisation. We hope that that one immunisation can cope with the winter season.

My Lords, can the Minister clarify that no vaccine is currently available for RSV and that the only available preventive measure for the disease is, as he mentioned, monoclonal antibodies, particularly for children? Does he agree that the disadvantages include that it requires multiple injections, and therefore will be administered only to higher-risk children at this stage, and that we will have to wait until a vaccine is developed before we can move the programme to all children?

The noble Lord is exactly right. Unfortunately, I cannot report to the House that we have a new vaccine, but my understanding is that they are working on it. As I said in my previous answer, nirsevimab lasts five times longer, so you do not have to have those injections as regularly—but I am afraid that you do still need to have them.

United Nations World Water Development Report


Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the United Nations World Water Development Report, published on 15 March.

My Lords, the UK supports the findings of the UN World Water Development Report 2023. We agree that partnership and co-operation are key to achieving sustainable development goal 6: equitable access to water and sanitation for all. However, delivery is far off track, particularly on accountability, political leadership and finance. At last week’s UN water conference I called for increased action in these areas and announced a new £18.5 million water sanitation and hygiene—WASH—system for health programme, as well as seed funding for a new £38 million water programme.

I thank the Minister for his reply. The report shows that where a country’s access to water is under threat, it can quickly lead to security issues, sometimes war, and eventually even higher levels of migration, so it is a subject that affects our country and every country in the world. One of the asks of the report is for partnerships to

“accelerate the development and uptake of innovative technologies through knowledge transfer, entrepreneurship and applied research.”

What are His Majesty’s Government doing to further the partnerships called for in the report?

The right reverend Prelate is exactly right on both counts, and our approach focuses very much on partnership and co-operation. The figures are huge: 2 billion people lacked access to safely managed water services in 2020, and 3.5 billion people lacked access to safely managed sanitation. He is also right about the link between water shortage and conflict. I think the House will find it as shocking as I do that children under five in protracted conflict zones are more likely to die as a consequence of unsafe water than from violence, so the link is absolutely there.

My Lords, will my noble friend encourage Ofwat and UK water companies to enter into a partnership programme with countries such as those identified by the right reverend Prelate? Can he explain why we are importing so much fruit and vegetables from countries in areas challenged by water stress, when we could grow much more at home?

I would love to see us produce more fruit and veg here in the UK. We produce wonderful fruit and veg. I suspect that the answer is that water is not priced correctly. Water is essential to all lifeforms on earth, yet we regard it as an expendable, infinite source. I suspect that is the reason why water footprints so rarely feature in prices.

My Lords, the simple fact is that fully functional WASH services are absolutely essential in healthcare facilities, as we heard from the noble Lord. The report highlighted gaps in co-ordinating provision with different agencies and NGOs. Can the Minister reassure the House that, when the Government attend the UN high-level panel meeting on universal health coverage, we will take up this question to ensure that those basic facilities are there to support health globally?

I absolutely can make that commitment. The water conference that I have just returned from was the first such conference in 46 years, which is a reflection of the lack of importance that has been attached to this critical issue for far too long. Over the course of the conference, between big business and Governments, 700 new commitments were made; if even half those commitments are seen through, it will have a life-changing impact for a very large number of people.

My Lords, last month I visited rural Malawi, where the source of water for the families in villages was a filthy stream, collected by hand, primarily by women and young girls. That area has been so badly affected by the horrific typhoon, and most of the victims have been women and girls. The Government have cut UK aid development assistance by 21% overall, but they have cut water and sanitary health support by 80%. Given what the Minister just said about the vital need for extra support, can he explain in clear terms, so we all understand, why there have been disproportionate cuts for water and sanitary health, affecting women and girls, most particularly in Africa?

The noble Lord makes the point about ODA cuts on most occasions when we debate. He is absolutely right to and, like him, I would very much like to see a return to the 0.7% spending—but that is something over which I am afraid I have no control. I do not think it is the case that water has been disproportionately cut. It may well be that the noble Lord is not aware of some of the programmes that directly overlap with this agenda but would not necessarily be described as water projects—not least, a whole new range of nature-based solutions that the Government are focusing on.

My Lords, does the Minister recognise that the expansion of population has not been marked by an expansion of water availability? One way in which that could be tackled is by putting more money into desalination programmes of the United Nations and other agencies to try to get more water processed from salinated water to drinkable water.

My noble friend makes an important point. There are lots of ways in which we can alleviate that problem. I add to his suggestion that the most important focus is to concentrate on the environmental link between water shortage and environmental degradation. To put that in context, the Congo Basin provides around two-thirds of Africa’s rain, so if we allow it to continue to be cut down at the rate it is currently being cut down—half a million hectares a year—one only needs to imagine the humanitarian crisis that would follow.

My Lords, is our influence in the world not somewhat diminished by the fact that we are pumping so much sewage into the sea and polluting our rivers, such as the Wye, with effluent from chicken farms?

The noble Lord is right to highlight this issue, despite the Question being on the international situation. The treatment by water companies of our waterways is and has been abominable. The British people expect much more, and so do the Government.

My Lords, given that only 54% of the world’s population are using safely managed sanitation services, as we have heard, what priority are the Government giving to our UK water companies to export their expertise and services, either through overseas development projects or via normal commercial channels?

My noble friend makes a very important point. We have a lot of partnerships. For example, since 2020 with Unilever we have supported 14,800 healthcare facilities with critical WASH supplies and services. We have trained nearly half a million health and other key workers on hygiene practices to help tackle the threat of Covid in 37 countries. I am afraid I cannot think offhand of such a partnership with one of our water companies, but I know that partnerships are core to how we approach this issue.

My Lords, on the theme of water scarcity and quality, can the Minister address two issues much closer to home? Can he tell the House how many new reservoirs have been built in England since 1991, when the population was 47.8 million, compared with nearly 56 million now? Secondly, can he provide data on the damage to human health caused by consumption of seafood taken from UK rivers and seas polluted by the discharge of raw sewage?

My Lords, I am afraid I do not know how many reservoirs have been built since 1991. I am sure that another department of government will provide that answer, but I am afraid I have no idea. I suspect that the answer is “not enough”. On the noble Lord’s question about the quality of seafood, to my knowledge the seafood captured by British fishing communities is of a higher quality than we find in most parts of the world. I am willing to be proven wrong if the noble Lord knows otherwise.

My Lords, I was recently in Nepal in my capacity as Colonel Commandant of the Brigade of Gurkhas and had the pleasure of visiting a WASH programme delivered by the Gurkha Welfare Trust. Such programmes have been delivered by the GWT for nearly 30 years, and just two years ago the GWT signed a new five-year contract. Unfortunately, while I was there I discovered that the five-year contract has now been cancelled after next year, and as a result the Gurkha Welfare Trust is going to have to make redundant some 300 employees who were delivering that programme at their own cost. I appreciate the cuts in ODA, but it rather proves the point that we have challenges. I simply ask my noble friend to look into this case.

It is not a case I know, but I will certainly look into it. The Gurkha Welfare Trust sounds like a very valuable organisation and I will be sure to raise this with colleagues in the Foreign Office.

Pensions Dashboards (Prohibition of Indemnification) Bill

Order of Commitment

Moved by

My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Unless, therefore, any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.

Motion agreed.

Public Order Bill

Commons Amendments and Reason

Motion A

Moved by

That this House do not insist on its Amendments 6B, 6C, 6D, 6E and 6F to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason 6G.

6G: Because it is not necessary to amend the stop and search powers contained in Clause 11.

My Lords, the Public Order Bill is about giving the police the tools they need to tackle the highly disruptive protest tactics we have seen in recent months which have blocked ambulances, delayed passengers from making important journeys and held the capital to ransom. We have had a fruitful debate over the course of the last few months about the contents of the Bill. Your Lordships have undoubtedly given the Bill the scrutiny the British public want and expect, and important compromises have been made along the way which I hope have satisfied the House. I do not intend to detain noble Lords for longer than necessary by repeating those debates. The British people are fed up with inaction and it is time that the Bill became law.

As your Lordships will be aware, this House voted to amend Clause 11—

“Powers to stop and search without suspicion”—

in a variety of ways. As I explained when those amendments were first considered, we cannot support them. This has been reiterated by the other place, and it is why we have brought Motion A. The amendments, among other things, vary the timescale and authorisation threshold for the powers, thereby creating inconsistency with the Section 60 stop and search powers which the Bill’s measures are modelled on.

I understand the argument put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, in seeking these changes—that by limiting the scope of the power you can attempt to address the disproportionality attached to it—but as the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, pointed out during the previous debates, this power “has to be practical”. With respect, I cannot see how not establishing parity with existing Section 60 powers supports that, with the unintended consequence likely to be confusion for the officers who will be using them.

Turning to Motion A1 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, which seeks to further alter the Bill’s powers to stop and search without permission, first, I remind the House about the legal framework that already exists for all stop and search powers. Under Section 3.8 of PACE Code A, the code of practice for powers to stop and search, officers have to give their name or identification number, police station to which they are attached and grounds for every search. These criteria are also covered in the “GOWISELY” mnemonic drilled into every officer.

Secondly, concerning the requirement for police forces to establish a charter on the use of powers, it is our view that this would cause unnecessary burden on police forces and officers. Plenty of long-established safeguards already exist for stop and search powers. Additionally, we have supported the National Police Chiefs’ Council in its publication of national guidance on the use of body-worn video. This includes encouraging forces to share footage with external scrutiny groups to support transparency and reflective practice and learning.

On the reporting on the use of stop and search powers, I reassure all noble Lords that the Home Office already publishes an annual statistical bulletin. This outlines in detail the information gathered during each stop and search incident. This reporting will be conducted for the use of the new stop and search powers, both suspicion-led and suspicionless, so I would argue that such a measure is unnecessary.

Finally, on publishing a statement giving reasons for the use of powers, as I said in our last debate, the Government recognise that communication on their use is a fundamental element of building trust and confidence between a force and the community it serves. The majority of forces, including the Metropolitan Police Service, already communicate their Section 60 authorisations, and I know that communities appreciate knowing detail on the geographical area, time limits and justification for the authorisation. Those forces will continue this practice for these new powers. Nevertheless, I recognise the merits that establishing this communication requirement in statute could bring. I commit now, on the Floor of the House, that the Government will amend PACE Code A to require that, where it is operationally practical to do so, forces communicate the extent of the area authorised for the suspicionless stop and search, the duration of an order and the reasons for the order.

The Home Office already publishes an annual statistics bulletin which analyses the data from forces across England and Wales. We will also amend PACE Code A to place data collection within the legislative framework. This will include a breakdown of both suspicion-led and suspicionless searches, cross-referenced with protected characteristics such as age, sex and ethnicity. I hope that will satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and—respectfully—persuade him to withdraw Motion A1.

The other place voted to disagree with this House’s previous amendments to Clause 11. This matter has been considered and the other place has expressed its will. I believe it is now time that this Bill becomes law.

Motion A1 (as an amendment to Motion A)

Moved by

6H: Clause 11, page 13, line 30, at end insert—

“(7A) Officers exercising the powers conferred by subsection (6) must give to the subject of a search—

(a) their name,

(b) their badge or shoulder number, and

(c) any details of the stop the officer considers relevant.”

6J: Clause 11, page 13, line 37, at end insert—

“(9A) Within one year of the passage of this Act, all police forces must establish a charter on the use of the powers in this section, setting out how, when and why they will be used.

(9B) The charter must—

(a) be drawn up in consultation with local communities,

(b) be evaluated independently, and

(c) explain how Body Worn Video footage will be used.

(9C) Each police force must produce an annual report on the use of the powers over the year, broken down by location.

(9D) Within one month of the powers in this section being used, the authorising officer must publish a statement giving reasons.””

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, for his continued engagement over this difficult issue and indeed the further concessions that he has clearly made. I am sure they are very welcome as part of the deliberations between us.

We need to start by considering why we are here and what today’s debate is about. First, it is not about not having suspicionless stop and search. We believed, as did many in this Chamber, that the whole of Clause 11 should have been taken out—that suspicionless stop and search for protests should have been taken out of the Bill. But we lost that; that vote was lost. With this being a revising Chamber, we believed it was necessary to consider whether further mitigation of Clause 11 was therefore needed, given that it was going to stay in the Bill.

But the Government threw out our mitigation completely, although the Minister has now come back with some words about communication. We wanted that point about communication in the Bill and said that the seniority of the officer allowing the suspicionless stop and search should be increased, but that was thrown out. The noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, can no doubt speak for himself but I remind the Minister, who prayed him in aid, that the noble Lord voted for my amendment at our last debate—the Minister can check Hansard. He ought to recognise that. After the Government threw out our mitigation, the Casey review and the report from the Children’s Commissioner into stop and search of children came along.

Let me deal with some of the things that I think the Minister will say in response. He will throw up smoke—when in trouble, the Government always do. I suspect there has been a huge debate in the Home Office on suspicionless stop and search at protests, and the Government have conceded that they perhaps ought to communicate a bit better. As he has said when we have debated this before, the Minister will no doubt say that the public support stop and search for knife crime, gun crime and so on. This Bill has nothing to do with that at all. Of course I support suspicionless stop and search if it stops stabbings, murders and serious violence, but Section 60 of the 1994 Act is completely irrelevant to the Bill. Yet the Minister in the other place used the public support for stop and search because it stops serious violence as a reason for including suspicionless stop and search in the Bill. It is completely irrelevant.

As was raised in a previous debate, even the Conservative- led Government in 2012 changed suspicionless stop and search in respect of terrorism because they believed that the power in the 2000 Act went too far. To their credit, the then Prime Minister Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May said that it had gone too far and that they would restrict it, narrowing the criteria even for terrorism. I have not checked who was in the Committee that passed it, but some noble Lords sitting on the Conservative Benches will have voted for it in the other place—quite rightly; it should be a matter of pride that they did so, even for terrorism.

This suspicionless stop and search power does not relate to terrorism or serious violence. It relates to protest —whether someone has a padlock or some glue. If it has been agreed by an inspector, not the chief superintendent, you can search people without suspicion on the basis that they may have those things in their pockets. It is a complete overreach of the law, one of the most serious powers that this Parliament can give the police to use on the streets. I cannot believe that anybody thought it would be used for protests. If the British public, all of sudden, not just around Parliament but in the middle of another city or wherever, find themselves being searched on the basis of suspicionless stop and search, they will just not believe that it is because they are at a protest, and neither will their friends, parents or family.

The Minister will no doubt say that this is all covered by PACE Code A, and indeed he has said that there will be some changes to that code. That is a complacent response to the scale of what we are facing. It ignores the evidence that those two recent reports have put before your Lordships; it flies in the face of those reports.

My Motion A1 has laid out all the recommendations in there, based on the Casey review. If I were the Government I would have said, as a statement of intent and good will toward the Casey review, and as a Government who are using that review, “We are shocked by its findings. We want to support the vast majority of hard-working police officers, and to do that we as a Government are going to make a statement of intent that this is a line in the sand and the way we will go forward to support the police in a better future”.

We cannot ignore statistics—others will no doubt speak more movingly about some of them—and it is worth reminding ourselves of some of the statistics in the Casey review. Sir Mark Rowley is not ignoring them, and police officers will not ignore them, but they are worth stating given the current situation with stop and search. It is relevant to this because they show the disproportionality under existing stop and search regulation and law, and we are seeking to expand that with respect to protests. The recent reports examining every year since 2016 show that those between 11 and 61 who appear to be black have been at least five times more likely to be stopped and searched by the Met than their white counterparts. This is unacceptable, and we propose to extend suspicionless stop and search for protests? I do not believe that. Stop and search for serious violence? Yes, do that, I understand that—but where are we going with this?

The Government have accepted the Casey review; they have quibbles about one or two bits of it, but they have accepted it. A recent report examining the experience of black communities nationally regarding stop and search says that while 77% of black adults support it in relation to suspicion of carrying a weapon, less than half of those who have been stopped and searched felt that the police had communicated well enough with them. The Government are seeking to do something about that, but you can go on—statistic after statistic laid out in the Casey review highlights the disproportionality of stop and search. What my Motion seeks to do is to build on the recommendations in the Casey review which seek to do something about this, and I would have thought the Government would have embraced that. We have also had the Children’s Commissioner’s report, which as we know came out a couple of days ago. It listed the number of strip-searches of children and some of the issues raised by that.

I have laid out the Motion before you. The Minister says that everything is in PACE Code A, and I am sure others will also say that. All that my Motion seeks to do is to say that such is the importance of this, and such is the necessity for us to draw a line in the sand, that it must be put on the face of primary legislation. It should be not in statutory guidance tucked away on page 602, but on the face of the Bill. Do not say that it is in PACE Code A because, if so, why does the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, say that there is a need for all the recommendations that she has put forward? Why are they necessary if they are already all covered? Proposed new subsection (7A)(a), (b), and (c) to Clause 11 is lifted straight from her report, yet the Minister will say, “It is okay, we do not need it because it is in PACE Code A”. I am lifting this out of the Casey review to say, “This is what is needed, and this is what she recommends”—and that is what I am saying to this Chamber that we should vote on.

The other points are about establishing communication and consulting with various communities and looking at the figures on how this is doing. I highlight proposed new subsection 9B(c), which says that the charter must

“explain how Body Worn Video footage will be used.”

I will not go through each one, but one of the reasons I put that in there is because the Casey review said that there are stop and searches taking place where cameras are not turned on. It may be in the PACE review that they should be turned on, but sometimes they are not. We should put this in the Bill, in primary legislation, and take it forward.

No doubt many others wish to contribute. I finish where I started: this is about suspicionless stop and search, which in certain areas to do with serious violence or terrorism may be necessary. It cannot be necessary in a free and democratic society to have suspicionless stop and search for protest-related offences. This is overreach by the Government, and noble Lords should support my Motion as a further way to try to mitigate the impact of a clause that should not really be there in the first place.

My Lords, I stand only to amplify what the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, has said. Anybody who reads the Baroness Casey Review: Final Report will find it a great shock. The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, has tried to put her words very simply. Paragraph 10 in one of her recommendations says:

“The use of stop and search in London by the Met needs a fundamental reset.”

We cannot simply go back and say, “We’ve been doing it this way”. She goes on:

“The Met should establish a charter with Londoners on how and when stop and search is used, with an agreed rationale, and provide an annual account of its use by area, and by team undertaking stop and searches. Compliance with the charter should be measured independently, including the viewing of Body Worn Video footage. As a minimum, Met officers should be required to give their name, their shoulder number, the grounds for the stop and a receipt confirming the details of the stop.”

At the end of our Stephen Lawrence inquiry, we talked about stop and search. We said that stop and search should be retained because it is a useful tool for preventing crime, but we had a similar attitude and gave similar statements to the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. John Grieve was tasked by the then commissioner of the Met to carry out work on how this could be done. There was a pilot. It worked, but of course some newspapers did not like it and saw it as bureaucracy that prevented the police’s work too much, and it was then stopped. This has now come home to roost. Had we sustained what was started by Sir Paul Condon, we would be in a very different place, but we are not. We have a review suggesting that what is in Motion A1 would be a good thing. I do not see how that could go wrong.

Finally, as I said in the last debate on this, if the Bill is about public order, we have extended stop and search beyond belief. People are protesting—let us say young people—about climate change, injustice and unfairness. There is really no need for it; I cannot see why they should be stopped and searched. Most of all, these protests are at the heart of being in a free society. Most of us did not want Clause 11 but, now that it is in there, these provisions would be a safeguard so that the extension of stop and search does not do greater damage and hurt to our young people, who really want to protest.

Remember when they left school for a day to protest about global warming. If you stopped and searched them because you believed there was a reason to do so, most parents would have been offended. I would have been. Stop and search has been extended in the Public Order Bill and not for the rest of crimes, which I would wholeheartedly support. In many ways this amendment would limit the abuse that could occur because we went for believing as opposed to having grounds to suspect.

My Lords, this Bill was always about political signals, not sensible policy. Finally, even signals must change. I respect the Minister, but others in the Home Office have been slow to respond to the concerns of the British public about abuses of broad police powers.

Much has happened and even more has been exposed since this Bill began its passage last May. Last July Wayne Couzens lost an appeal against a whole life sentence for the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard while he was a serving police officer, after a purported stop and arrest for breach of lockdown laws in March 2021. Last month David Carrick was imprisoned for 30 years for an unrestrained 18-year campaign of rape and abuse while he was a serving police officer.

Also last month, YouGov reported that 51% of Londoners do not trust the Metropolitan Police very much or at all. Last week, as we have heard, the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, called for a “fundamental reset” of the use of stop and search, which she said is

“currently deployed by the Met at the cost of legitimacy, trust and, therefore, consent.”

Just yesterday the Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, found that nearly 3,000 children aged between eight and 17 had been strip-searched under stop and search powers between 2018 and 2022. Nearly 40% of them were black. Half of those strip searches had no appropriate adult present.

All this relates to the use and abuse of current police powers. Still, today we are being asked yet again to green-light new powers to stop and search peaceful protesters without even a reasonable suspicion of criminality. When trust in policing and the rule of law is in jeopardy, if this House does not exercise its constitutional duty to say “enough”—no more power without at least the modest statutory responsibilities set out in Motion A1 in the name of my noble friend Lord Coaker—what are we for?

My Lords, I had not planned to speak, but it is important to remember that we are not dealing simply with peaceful protests. I remind the House of what I said on a previous occasion in respect of these amendments. We are dealing with organised, large-scale disruption, using implements. The purpose of the disruption, as the disrupters make plain, is not simply to protest but to stop citizens going about their lawful business for a disproportionate length of time. As I reminded the House previously, the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg has said more than once that such activity is unlawful and that protests that go beyond merely protesting can legitimately be stopped by government.

We are talking about plainly unlawful protest, not a march as we all remember. I have told the House once that I have marched too in the past, and my daughter has marched, but we are not talking about that. We are talking about locking on, sitting tight and blocking the thoroughfare for hours and hours. There has to be a balance between someone saying that they do not like climate change, which is legitimate and real, and on the other hand stopping everybody else getting to hospital, to their jobs and to school—doing what they all want to do. If you want to complain about climate change or anything else, you can do so, but you cannot legitimately stop the world at large—the citizens of this country—going about their business. We are talking about plainly unlawful disruption, using unlawful means, which is damaging to the health and well-being of the innocent citizens of this country, of which we are all members.

These are extreme situations. I am sorry that we have ever arrived at this point, with people in this country behaving like this. But they do, and therefore we now need these rather extraordinary powers. I never thought I would support powers such as these, but on this occasion I do.

My Lords, what a pity the noble Lord does not care about what the Government are doing to the country, because I say that what they are doing is a lot more illegal than what these protesters are doing. The noble Lord has to understand that disruption is part of protest and that, as we have heard throughout the debate, the police have enough powers to arrest people who do anything that is not peaceful. Disruption on the roads and within our cities does not necessarily stop people going to hospitals or schools; it is the Government who are stopping people going to hospital because they are underfunding the NHS and stripping out our doctors and nurses by not paying them properly. They are responsible for a lot more damage to our society than these protesters are. Thank goodness the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, has brought this back so that we can say to the Government that they do not know what they are talking about.

My Lords, I declare my interest as co-chair of the national police ethics committee, but obviously I am not speaking on behalf of it today. I had hoped not to have to speak at all this afternoon but after the contributions of other noble Lords I feel I must say a few words.

I want to get us back to the focus of this amendment. Although I have much sympathy for what I have heard around the Chamber of late, this is an amendment around how police use suspicionless stop and search powers. I wish we had had the Casey report and the report we have just received on the strip-searching of children earlier in the consideration of the Bill. They would have informed our deliberations very helpfully at that stage. However, we have them now. I feel that we need to put something in the Bill that recognises that we have heard what was said by the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, and in the other report that came out in these last few weeks. We need something to say that we are putting down a marker—a signal, as the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, said a few moments ago—that, whatever we have done in other legislation, now we are in a different world.

I am passionate about the confidence that we have as the citizens of this land in our police force, about good and effective policing, and about the country having respect for its police. However, I worry that, if passed unamended, this legislation will further damage that relationship. It will not lead to public order but to further public disorder. Therefore, I support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, gave us a passionate reminder of the reason why there is so much public hostility to a lot of the types of tactics that have been used by protesters over the last year, which have undoubtedly fuelled support for the headlines associated with this legislation. As it happens, those arguments have been well rehearsed in this Chamber by all sides. It seems that, despite that, the demand for stop and search without suspicion will do absolutely nothing to tackle the problems that are described. I want to state that again: stop and search without suspicion. It seems extraordinary to me that anyone would imagine that that would have any impact whatever on the protesters that the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, described, but it will definitely have a chilling impact on protest in general.

As it happens, the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, is incredibly reasonable. It does not fly in the face of anything the Government are trying to do. It asks for some checks and balances, which, having read the report of the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, you would think that the Government would welcome. In all seriousness, anyone reading that would have to think, “Oh my goodness—what happened?” To have a balancing amendment, which is what Motion A1 is, seems very sensible.

Finally, on Sunday, a group of women, some of whom I know, went to Speakers’ Corner as part of the Let Women Speak campaign. They were kettled and mobbed by hostile opponents. Regardless of what you think of that event, I mention it because the police stood by and did nothing. At one point, when things got really hairy, they walked off, leaving those women facing a lot of aggression.

The difficulty is that the police have acted inconsistently, erratically and almost in a politicised fashion when policing different demonstrations. I would like the police to use the powers they have—goodness knows, they have plenty of them—to police this country and protect those under attack. We do not need to give them new powers that they do not need to police this country or to police any aggressive demonstration that disrupts the lives of everyone, as noble Lords have said. We just need the police to do the job that they are paid to do. They do not appear to be doing so, and that is what the Casey report shows.

It is worse than that. We will do damage to the reputation of the police if this House, just for headlines, thinks that the Government will improve things—they will not. I urge your Lordships to support the police by not being disproportionate, and to support the public by asking the police to do their job without bringing in suspicionless stop and search, which is draconian in any country.

My Lords, having been mentioned by both Front Benches, I thought I ought to speak for myself, just to make clear my position.

We are not debating whether there is suspicionless stop and search but the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Coaker. To make clear my position, I support smart, effective stop and search, done according to the law, but it can cause problems, as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, mentioned, and sometimes it causes a problem disproportionate to the benefit it produces. For as long as I was involved—certainly in London, but wherever I have worked—I have always supported its being used wisely.

In 2017, after the riots London experienced, one of my conclusions was that one of the causes or aggravating factors was the amount of stop and search being carried out. Over the two preceding years, people had either been stopped and searched or, as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, mentioned, stopped and accounted around 2.6 million times. Bearing in mind that, at the time, there were only 8.4 million people in London and the vast majority stopped were men, that was an awful lot of times that some people were getting stopped. For that reason, we reduced stop and search by about two-thirds, and Section 60 searches—the suspicionless option—by 90%, and yet we arrested more people and reduced crime. So it is entirely possible to do it better and less. I support stop and search when done properly; that is my broad point.

On the back of what I just described, I introduced 23,000 officers with body-worn video. It can make a difference. It reduces complaints and proves that either the officer was performing badly or there was a lie being told about the officer. Either way, it should improve police behaviour, and on the whole it has. I go on to say that, at the moment, it is being switched on when there is an event to be filmed. I think there is a growing argument for it to be on all the time.

There are consequences to that, not least in cost and intrusion into privacy, particularly, perhaps, when an officer talks to a family or anybody with a child. The first thing they have to say is just that straightforward discussion that they are going to film it. It is not the best introduction anybody could have, but I think that the wider use of body-worn video is probably wise.

On a point that the Minister raised, I am glad to see the acknowledgement that there might be more communication of this suspicionless stop and search at protests. I do not support suspicionless stop and search in the Bill, and I voted against it, but that was not the amendment that was brought back, so I could not do anything about that. My point in that debate was that the communication should happen at the border of an area that people are about to enter where suspicionless stop and search is about to be exercised. Currently, whether it is a Section 60 or a protest, if you walk into that area, you just do not know. I do not think it is good enough to say, “Well, if you’d consulted the website, you’d have found out. Somebody has published a notice”. It is entirely possible, either digitally or by putting up posters—there are any number of ways. If you say to someone, “If you go into this area, there’s a protest or we have got Section 60 as there’s a lot of violence, and you run the risk of a without-cause stop and search”, I think you assist the officer in carrying out their job. So my point is about communication at the boundary at which you cross and where the suspicionless stop and search might be exercised.

That said, I do not entirely agree with the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker. There is one part of it which I do, but I am really not sure that this is the right way. I take the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, that this might be a way to send a signal, but I am not sure that this is the way for me.

In terms of officers exercising the powers conferred by subsection (6), the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, has made the point that she would prefer these particular amendments. Actually, within the Bill and the code, I think there is a stronger set of rules for the officer. They have to say what they expect to find, give a reason, explain why they are legally allowed to use the searches—Section 1 or Section 60—and that you can have a record of that search at that time or subsequently, within a year. Now, it seems to me that these are strong powers, and if you want to amend the things the Government have said they want to, the way is to amend the code. If you put these conditions in the Bill, you will end up with Section 1 and Section 60 searches going by the code and the protest ones being covered by the Bill. I think that there is at least a risk of confusion, and there needs to be consistency. The code might be amended in the way described but I am not sure that these powers alone form an awful lot of additional powers or, frankly, reassurance compared with what is already in the code.

The amendment says:

“Within one year of the passage of this Act, all police forces must establish a charter on the use of the powers in this section”

and that must

“be drawn up in consultation with local communities”.

My concern is that that runs the risk that it will be inconsistent across the 43 police forces that cover this country. Then you are going to end up with confusion: if you protest in Birmingham or London, you end up with a different set of charters. I do not think that is a very wise thing; if there is to be a charter, it is perhaps wise to have a national charter. But to have different circumstances in different parts of the country about protest, I just do not understand how that is going to work for the protesters or the police officers.

The amendment also says:

“Each police force must produce an annual report on the use of the powers”.

I think that could be put into the police’s annual report, which is produced each year anyway, but it could be more bureaucracy if we have another report to publish every year. What I do think is a good idea is:

“Within one month of the powers in this section being used, the authorising officer must publish a statement giving reasons”.

That seems entirely reasonable and something that I do not think anybody could object to. In fact, I think it should be published at the time that the power is declared. If you are going to tell the public that this power is going to be used, you can explain why you are going to use it. I think that is a perfectly reasonable thing, but I do not necessarily think that this amendment enhances what is already in place. I accept that it could send a signal, but I am not sure that it is a wise signal to send at the moment.

My Lords, I had not intended to intervene in this fascinating discussion, but I will make one point and one point only. We are talking about the possible dangers of stop and search.

We have every opportunity of examining what is happening right now, not in this country—although we would if we proceeded with this Bill—but in France. In France, the use of extreme stop and search by an undisciplined police force, somewhat similar to our own, has accelerated and accentuated the problems that they have had, with the result that what were in themselves perhaps not objectionable practices turned into something very much worse—gender conflict, class conflict and, of course, very sadly, racial and religious conflict. So we do have on this continent examples of the dangers that could occur. We are choosing, in effect, the most extreme option of how to deal with civil disturbances and, indeed, with the exercise of human rights. I urge the House to act wisely and temperately and show the restraint and scrutiny for which it is justly honoured.

My Lords, I did not plan to speak and do not have notes to speak from, and I will speak briefly, but I want to express my strongest possible support for the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker. I regret that the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, who I respect a lot, has nitpicked through the amendment. The principle of the amendment is that stop and search without suspicion is a completely exceptional step to be taken in a democracy. If we were standing here in Moscow, or Beijing, we might well expect this sort of power to be given to the police in relation to public demonstrations. It is not for this country to be introducing these powers for the police, and I am so shocked, frankly, that our Government are attempting to do that.

The amendment is incredibly modest. It is saying that police officers do not take these powers and use them thoughtlessly without proper care, attention and, ideally, consultation with the community. This is an incredibly serious step for any police officer to take. That is the point of this amendment. Yes, we can say it should say this or that or something else. That is not the point. The point is that this power is outrageous; the police already have the powers they need to deal with demonstrations—they really do. Those police officers need the commitment of the community and to work with the community. This power will interfere with policing and reduce the safety of our communities up and down the country.

I hope that the House will support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, as a clear statement that we know this power to be the dangerous step that it is and that police officers need to take the most extreme care in using it.

My Lords, I say briefly that I am concerned about the use of these powers and I support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker.

My Lords, I will not repeat what I said last time, but since last time, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, said, we have had the Casey review. The noble Baroness, Lady Casey of Blackstock, is quite clear about what she thinks about stop and search. In that review, she says, as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, has already said:

“The use of stop and search in London by the Met needs a fundamental reset. The Met should establish a charter with Londoners on how and when stop and search is used, with an agreed rationale, and provide an annual account of its use by area, and by team undertaking stop and searches”.

It is unfortunate that the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, disagrees with the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, in coming to that conclusion. Elsewhere in the report she says:

“Stop and search—”

I think I am entitled to my opinion and to make the point which I made. I explained that I could live with a national charter, but I dispute the need for a local one, which ends up with the possibility, even if it is nitpicking, of inconsistency across the country, where we expect consistency. That was merely my point.

The noble Lord is of course entitled to his opinion, and so am I. I said it was unfortunate that the noble Lord disagreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. That is my opinion.

Elsewhere in the report, the noble Baroness says:

“Stop and search and vehicle stops are justified

—she meant by the police—

“through their compliance with the law, ignoring how such incidents are perceived, the impact on individuals, and the wider corrosive impact of trust in the police.”

The Minister mentioned body-worn video and so does the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. She says that the police want to use body-worn video to justify continuing to do what they have done in the past rather than what she says is needed, which is a fundamental reset. Body-worn video is not the answer. That should not be used by the police to justify continued disproportionality in their use of the power.

The noble Baroness further states:

“Black Londoners are under-protected—disproportionately the victims of homicides and domestic abuse; and over-policed—facing disproportionate use of stop and search and use of force by the Met. A huge and radical step is required to regain police legitimacy and trust among London’s Black communities.”

“Overpoliced and underprotected” is what a black policeman said to the Macpherson inquiry 25 years ago. It was not the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, but another black churchman giving evidence to that inquiry; here we are with another inquiry saying exactly the same thing 25 years later.

The noble Baroness, Lady Casey, cites a Home Affairs Select Committee report from 2021, which reported that, in the previous year, the equivalent of one in four black males aged 15 to 24 in London were stopped and searched in a three-month period. The noble Baroness says:

“The facts relating to stop and search are … around 70 to 80% lead to no further action … the more stop and searches are done, the greater the proportion of no further actions.”

The noble Baroness cites a 2019 research study that questioned the efficacy of stop and search as a tactic of policing. She quotes from that report, as do I. It says:

“Overall, our analysis of ten years’ worth of London-wide data suggests that, although stop and search had a weak association with some forms of crime, this effect was at the outer margins of statistical and social significance.”

The Minister repeatedly says that the power that we are debating today—the power to stop and search without suspicion—is based on the existing power under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The 2019 research goes on to say:

“When we looked separately at S. 60 searches, it did not appear that a sudden surge in use had any effect on the underlying trend in … violent crime.”

The noble Baroness, Lady Casey, concludes:

“Stop and search is currently deployed by the Met at the cost of legitimacy, trust and, therefore consent. … It has damaged trust. If the Met is unable to explain and justify its disproportionate use and the impacts of these, then it needs a fundamental reset.”

The majority of stop and search nationally—between 50% and 60%—is carried out in London. The majority—over 60%—of protests happen in London. The majority of times these powers are used will be in London. Stop and search in London needs a fundamental reset, and yet this Government have ignored this House and are giving the police even more opportunity to undermine their legitimacy, trust and, therefore, consent, by giving the police more powers to stop and search.

Without consent, the whole system of policing in this country is undermined, and that is what this Government risk with this legislation. We support the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and will vote for it, but we believe these new stop and search powers should not be part of the Bill. That is what we have always said and what we maintain.

The noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, cited various examples of what I think he called “disproportionate protests”. All the examples he gave are of criminal offences for which people can be arrested. The police do not need stop and search powers in addition to those powers of arrest.

The noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, cited the 2017 riots and his view, his opinion, was that they were aggravated by the police use of stop and search. Lord Scarman said exactly the same thing about the 1981 Brixton riots. Will we never learn? I urge this House to vote for Motion A1.

My Lords, I had not intended to speak in this debate today, but I find myself totally in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and with the last remark about Lord Scarman. I worked very closely with him in 1981 and after that and agreed wholeheartedly with his findings then. They are still good today.

The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, spoke very eloquently and I found myself nodding all the way through her speech. I agree entirely with what she said and will not weary this House by repeating those very wise words, save to say that I think that this is the wrong time for this projected policy. What we need now is temperate and measured policing and this is not going to help that. I support the noble Lord, Lord Coaker.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for another fruitful debate. As I said at the beginning, this Bill has undoubtedly been given the scrutiny the British public want and expect.

Before I go on to more substantive remarks, I should say that I fully support the Casey report. The Government and the Met Police have taken this report very seriously. Guidance on the use of stop and search is statutory and is set out in PACE. It is the law. That is the place for it, as the noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, pointed out, if nothing else to ensure consistency. There are safeguards and considerable scrutiny of stop and search and I will come back to that.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, and others will no doubt accuse me of semantics but as my noble friend Lord Sandhurst reminded us, these powers relate to serious disruption—ambulances should not be stopped from getting to hospital, as the leader of the Opposition has pointed out in the past.

On the comments from the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, about the effectiveness of stop and search, I was reminded of a pack that I still have in my folder. I was giving some statistics yesterday, and every knife seized through stop and search, I think, is a potential life saved. In 2021-22, stop and search removed around 14,900 weapons and firearms from our streets and resulted in almost 67,000 arrests. I appreciate that we are on a slightly different subject, but none the less this is an important and powerful illustration that, used appropriately, stop and search can work.

Recent protests have been clear in their aim of causing as much disruption as possible through the use of guerrilla tactics. These measures give the police the proactive powers necessary to respond to those dangerous and disruptive tactics quickly. We will work closely with our partners in the police to ensure that they have the support and resources in place to use these powers.

I have heard what the House has said about the potential disproportionality involved in this and we acknowledge that nobody should be stopped and searched because of their race. Extensive safeguards such as the statutory codes of practice to which I have referred and the use of body-worn video exist to ensure that this does not happen. The Home Office publishes extensive data on police use of stop and search in the interest of transparency and we will expand the publication to the use of the new powers provided for in this Bill, as I have already outlined.

I referred to GOWISELY earlier, which is a mnemonic. This follows, and frankly supports, many of the recommendations from the noble Baroness, Lady Casey. I will go through them. The G stands for grounds for the search. These are the minimum bits of information which should be given to the person detained for the purpose of the search. O stands for the object of the search. W is for the warrant card to be shown to the person searched. I is for the identity of the officer—that is usually the officer’s name unless the officer thinks that giving their name would put them in danger, in which case an identification number can be given. S is the station to which the officer is attached. E is the entitlement to a copy of the search form. L is the legal search power being exercised. Y means that you, the officer, must tell the person stopped that they are being detained for the purpose of the search.

The noble Lord, Lord Morgan, referred to the situation in Paris. As I understand it, much of that is a consequence of the activities of the gendarmerie, which is not a police force with any equivalent in this country.

Much has been said—by me—about the long-established safeguards that already exist for stop and search powers. I will go back to my initial speech: we have supported the National Police Chiefs’ Council in its publication of national guidance on the use of body-worn cameras. This includes encouraging forces to share footage with external scrutiny groups to support transparency and reflective practice and learning. I am not sure how that justifies disproportionality, in answer to the point from the noble Lord, Lord Paddick.

To go back to the PACE codes that we intend to amend, as I said earlier and will say again for the avoidance of doubt, this is statutory—it is law. We recognise the merits that establishing this communication requirement in statute can bring and commit now to amending PACE code 8 to require that, where it is operationally practical to do so, forces must communicate the extent of the area authorised for the suspicionless stop and search, the duration of an order and the reasons for the order.

As I have also said, the Home Office already publishes an annual statistics bulletin that analyses the data from forces across England and Wales. We will also amend PACE code 8 to place data collection within the legislative framework. This will include a breakdown of both suspicion-led and suspicionless searches, cross-referenced with protected characteristics such as age, sex and ethnicity.

I said earlier that I hoped that would persuade the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, to withdraw his Motion. I do believe that most of the things that he has eloquently explained that he wishes to see put in are already in place, albeit by slightly different means, but it remains the Government’s view that their suspicionless powers as introduced are necessary and much-needed proactive powers for talking highly disruptive protest offences and that the changes we have debated cannot be supported. So the Government’s position remains unchanged. We believe it is time for the Bill to become law, and I beg to move.

Would the Minister answer a question? In a situation where there is a protest preventing traffic, which is very grave and serious, and there are two people young people involved in it, if the police decided to use their power to strip and search, what would they expect to find on those two young people?

My Lords, we are debating stop and search. I am not quite sure where strip and search came into this, I am sorry.

With respect to the Minister, that was not an entirely adequate answer. He was probably quite clear on what the noble Lord, Lord Baker, was asking him.

That said, the Minister has relied very heavily in what he has said to the House this afternoon on existing protocols that the police are expected to use. We have just been told through the Casey report, using very recent evidence, that those protocols are substantially ignored by the police. Does he have an answer for that?

I apologise if I misunderstood my noble friend. I was basing my answer on the fact that a report was published yesterday by the Children’s Commissioner that specifically related to young people and strip search. If I misunderstood, I apologise. With regard to stop and search, I would argue that all the criteria for establishing the cordon and the area and so on would mean that the circumstances described by my noble friend would be highly unlikely.

With regard to the Casey report, as I have already said, both the Government and the Met police are taking it very seriously. These are rules that we expect to be followed.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response and also thank all noble Lords who have participated in this further discussion between us on this incredibly important matter. For the avoidance of doubt, I will be testing the opinion of the House on my amending Motion A1.

At the very beginning, I said to the Minister that one of the things he would do in his remarks was send up smoke. What did he do in his reply? He sent up smoke. What on earth has praying in aid that 14,900 weapons were seized under existing legislation got to do with the legislation we are currently debating? I am delighted that 14,900 weapons have been seized under stop and search powers—as every single Member in this Chamber will be—but they are nothing to do with suspicionless stop and search under Clause 11; I guess they are probably to do either with stop and search with reasonable suspicion, or with Section 60 suspicionless powers, where needed. I said that I support those powers, and I suspect that nearly everybody, if not everybody, here supports them. What I object to, and what is wrong, is using that to somehow speak against my amendments, because it is irrelevant: we are talking not about weapons or terrorism but about protests and using suspicionless stop and search with respect to protests.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, that we lost the debate about taking Clause 11 out: it is in the Bill. So the things that he wants to do—confiscate without suspicion various objects that are used for protest—are not what this debate is about: people continue to be able to do that. We lost that debate: we agreed it here, but it was put back in in the other place, and, given that we respect the will of the elected House, I revised what we were doing to seek to mitigate. That is what my amendment seeks to do: to mitigate this further. It does not stop it in any way.

However, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, that the bigger problem is that the police do not have the confidence to use the existing powers to do the things he wants. Nobody in this House supports the protests we have seen on our streets in the last couple of years. But the Government put up this sort of mirage of “This is what people who oppose what we are suggesting are for”. So people who are for the sort of amendment I am talking about are somehow on the side of protesters who are stopping ambulances, or on the side of people who want to take protests too far. That is a nonsense. What I am against is allowing the unmitigated use of Clause 11 without the safeguards needed.

Every single report from the inspectorate, the police complaints authority or whoever says that, if you are going to use this sort of power, which is the most severe power you can give the police, to stop people without suspicion going about their lawful business—that is the power you are going to give to these people—you have to build in safeguards. My contention is that, even with the concessions that the Minister made, the Government’s safeguards are not sufficient and need to be in the Bill. Why do I say that? I use the evidence in the Casey review. I do not just make it up and say, “Oh, that’d be a good idea”; I use the evidence from somebody who has researched and understood this, talked to people, been out to communities, and said, “This is what needs to be included. If you don’t, you risk carrying on with some of the problems that we’ve got”. The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Sentamu, talked about disproportionality, and my noble friend Lady Lawrence and others with experience of this are here. The disproportionality is, frankly, a scar on our society, and now we are now going to extend that suspicionless power, with all that that may entail, without the necessary safeguards in the Bill.

It is not people like you and me who will be stopped and searched; it will be some of the most deprived people in some of the most difficult communities, who already have problems with trust and confidence in the police. We have the opportunity here, through the Casey review, to draw a line in the sand and set the agenda to support our police by saying that we will help them regain the trust and confidence they need. But we cannot do that if the Government are hiding behind saying, “Oh well, we are in favour of getting weapons off the street and stopping these awful protests”. We are all in favour of that, but this is an overreach of legislation which will potentially have very serious consequences for our society.

My amendment simply seeks to mitigate the impact of the suspicionless stop and search power. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, that it should not be in the Bill anyway, but, as we have lost that argument, all we are seeking to do is to mitigate its impact. That is a perfectly sensible and reasonable thing to do.

I finish by saying that we are giving our police the most severe power that they can be given: suspicionless stop and search. Just by walking down the street, you could be stopped and searched. We have said that the power is fine with respect to terrorism—but even there we have mitigated it—and we accept that it is fine if it stops murder, gang warfare and all those sorts of things. But it is a totally different set of circumstances to talk about using suspicionless stop and search for protests. That is a step too far and, as such, we should at least mitigate its impact by supporting the amending Motion I have put forward.

Energy Bill [HL]

Report (1st Day)

Relevant document: 4th Report from the Constitution Committee

Amendment 1

Moved by

1: Before Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Principal purpose(1) The principal purpose of this Act is—(a) to increase the resilience and reliability of energy systems across the United Kingdom,(b) to support the delivery of the United Kingdom’s climate change commitments,(c) to reform the United Kingdom’s energy system while minimising costs to consumers and protecting them from unfair pricing, and(d) to improve the overall efficiency of the United Kingdom energy system and economy.(2) The Secretary of State must report to Parliament annually on—(a) how the resilience and reliability of energy systems across the United Kingdom are being increased;(b) how the United Kingdom’s climate change commitments in relation to energy are being delivered, including updates on—(i) the decarbonisation of existing electricity usage, and(ii) the electrification of processes in the United Kingdom so that they are powered by electricity rather than other primary energy sources;(c) how costs to consumers are being minimised and how unfair pricing is being avoided.(3) In performing functions under this Act, the Secretary of State and any public authority must have regard to the principal purpose set out in subsection (1).”

My Lords, the Bill has had a protracted journey through this House. I make it around eight months since Second Reading, and the global energy system and its impact on households has never been far from the top of the headlines over that whole tumultuous period. So although we may not see some of the passions we saw on display in the previous debate on the Public Order Bill, it underscores the vital importance of many of the issues we are going to talk about today. As Vaclav Smil said in his excellent work Energy and Civilisation:

“Energy is the only universal currency: one of its many forms must be transformed to get anything done.”

It is a pleasure to open the debate on Report and I look forward to this really important legislation making its way to the other place and, I hope, on to the statute book very soon.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, for her support of my Amendments 1 and 136 in this group and for her help in developing them. I declare my interests as an engineer and project director with Atkins, working on the energy system, and as a director of Peers for the Planet. Upfront, I thank the Minister and his team for meeting me and for all their engagement on these issues.

I was keen to come back to this issue on Report due to the number of developments in this area since Committee. Without repeating much of what I said then, back in September last year—again, it has been a long journey on the Bill—it is worth coming back to the headline concern I raised and that I want to progress with this amendment. Electrical generation and distribution is at the core of the net-zero energy system, being the enabler for ambitions in so many other areas.

We are not building electrical generating capacity or network capacity anywhere near quickly enough to meet the Government’s aspirations—and not just the 2035 decarbonisation target. Setting it aside for one moment: if we do not manage to vastly increase our generating and network capacity over the coming decade, all the other aspirations, in terms of energy security, decarbonising heating, the uptake of electric vehicles and hydrogen production, will simply not be possible at scale. That is why Amendment 1 places the electrical generating system at the core of what the Bill is trying to achieve by setting out its principal purpose.

What is missing as a first step to give industry direction is a clear delivery plan for how we are going to achieve targets for our power-generating system. Amendment 136 achieves this by requiring this plan to be produced and setting a clear, measurable pathway for what needs to be achieved each year to 2035. The need for such a plan has been set out clearly in two recent reports published since Committee: the NAO report, Decarbonising the Power Sector, and the CCC report, Delivering a Reliable Decarbonised Power System. Both of these starkly highlight the challenge the Government have in meeting that 2035 target. The CCC and previous BEIS analysis state that we need to get to approximately 250 gigawatts of installed capacity by 2035 from a current base of around 108 gigawatts. Imagine the huge complexity and scale of our current energy-generating system. We need to build it all over again, and more, in 12 years. We have not, historically, come close to the build rates that would be needed to achieve that.

If we look at all the risks in terms of achieving our energy security and decarbonisation ambitions, the one that should really be flashing red on the Government’s dashboard is the risk of not achieving sufficient low-carbon generating and network capacity by 2035. But the important point made in the NAO report is that we cannot even make an adequate assessment of that risk, because we do not have a coherent delivery plan to back up the Government’s ambitions. I know that BEIS and now DESNZ have perhaps had one or two distractions in terms of the energy system over the past year, so the position we are in is understandable. But now the Government need to come back to this issue with real urgency.

As the National Audit Office states:

“The longer DESNZ goes without a critical path bringing together different aspects of power decarbonisation, the higher the risk that it does not achieve its ambitions, or it does so at greater than necessary cost to taxpayers and consumers”.

The Government have individual targets for solar, wind and nuclear, but these need to be brought together into a coherent, system-level plan, the delivery of which will see so many attendant benefits for the country in economic growth, energy security, decarbonisation and the health and well-being of the population.

Our amendment offers a really good approach to setting a clear pathway and a plan for the electricity system to 2035, ensuring that it is recognised in the Bill that this is the linchpin of the net-zero system. However, if the Minister does not think that the Bill is the right place for it, I would like some reassurance on two things. First, can he confirm that work is under way in the department to produce a delivery plan for a 2035 energy system and what the scope of that plan will be? Secondly, can he give a timescale within which this will be issued?

I support the other amendments in this group on Ofgem and look forward to the upcoming speeches from noble Lords on them. I also look forward to hearing from the Minister and hope that he can provide the reassurance I am asking for. I beg to move.

My Lords, I declare my interest as co-chair of Peers for the Planet. I will speak to my Amendment 133. I am grateful for the support of my co-signatories: the noble Lords, Lord Hollick and Lord Teverson, and the noble Baroness, Lady Altmann.

I also very much support the case for Amendment 1 made by the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale. One phrase stuck out for me: his advocation of a “coherent, system- level plan”. In so many of the areas around energy efficiency that we will deal with later in the Bill, this is what we have been missing—not individual initiatives but a strategic approach, with time limits, timescales and targets to be met, so that we can see delivery.

I also support Amendment 130 from the noble Lord, Lord Teverson—which is a different approach to achieving the same goal as my Amendment 133—and Amendment 132 in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blake of Leeds, which would finally ensure that the long-awaited strategy and policy statement setting out the Government’s priorities would be published within six months. I very much hope that the Minister can respond positively to that and say that that statement is imminent.

Ofgem’s current remit pre-dates the 2050 net-zero target set by Parliament in 2019. Amendment 133 gives Ofgem a specific statutory net-zero objective linked to our climate change targets, in so doing mirroring the remit that the Government are giving the future systems operator. In Committee, the Minister said of similar amendments updating Ofgem’s remit that the Government “agreed with their intent” but did not consider them necessary because of the existing decarbonisation objective, referring to the 2010 change to Ofgem’s remit, which included a non-specific greenhouse gas reduction objective.

However, this existing duty is limited and related to the reduction of electricity and gas supply emissions of targeted greenhouse gases only—in other words, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an unspecified amount over an unspecified timescale. It does not link to our net-zero targets and as a result is less specific and ambitious than what the Government are legislating for the future systems operator.

The change advocated in Amendment 133 has broad support, as was recognised by the Government in their consultation on the future systems operator. The Government themselves noted that

“there were several strong calls for Ofgem’s remit to be reformed to focus on enabling net zero”.

The change was recommended in a report by your Lordships’ Industry and Regulators Committee, chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Hollick, and was also recommended this year by the Skidmore review and the Climate Change Committee. The latter argued that:

“Giving Ofgem a net zero responsibility”

will help it to

“think … strategically about the changes that lie ahead so that we can minimise the cost to the consumer in the long run.”

Just yesterday, the National Infrastructure Commission, in a fairly coruscating report on the Government’s progress towards reaching net zero, recommended the change in its Infrastructure Progress Review.

Support does not end there. The new duty is strongly endorsed by the main industry trade bodies: Energy UK, whose 100 members deliver nearly 80% of the UK’s power generation and over 95% of the energy supply; RenewableUK, which represents 1,000 businesses employing 250,000 people in the UK; and the Energy Networks Association, whose members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and which employs 40,000 people in Great Britain.

This is not just a matter of semantics. The reason all these organisations and bodies support this change is that they believe it essential for increasing the pace and scale of investment in the UK’s electricity grid, which we were hearing about earlier, in order to deliver net zero and ensure that long-term planning happens at the pace needed. As the noble Lord, Lord Hollick, who cannot be with us today, said when we were debating a similar amendment in Committee:

“Many of our witnesses”

at the Select Committee

“told us that the net zero target should be included explicitly within Ofgem’s strategic duties … If there is no explicit reference to net zero, there is a danger that the decisions will be very short-term in nature, focusing on short-term costs for consumers and not the long-term costs of failing to achieve net zero and invest in the infrastructure necessary to achieve that.”—[Official Report, 16/1/23; col. GC 418.]

The trade bodies that represent the industry have been clear that they consider the lack of a clear duty that specifically refers to our net-zero targets as a reason why there has been historic underinvestment in the grid. Ofgem is not currently empowered to consider the benefit of long-term investments with sufficient weight, meaning that new renewable infrastructure is having to wait years to connect to the grid in some cases. This is not a case of it saving the consumer money, as it will cost more in the long term if we continually, but only slowly and incrementally, improve localised energy grid infrastructure. To put it colloquially, it will mean repeatedly digging up the road many times over, rather than digging it up once and for ever.

As RenewableUK has commented to us, at present

“grid development only takes place when there is overwhelming demand for it”,

rather than in future anticipation. That would make sense in a situation where there were uncertainties, but we are certain that we are going to have vastly increased demand for electricity in the near future and that the grid will be decarbonised. We know that every street in every town is going to need to be able to install EV charging points, and we hope that new developments will need to install solar panels and heat pumps, which will all need to connect to the grid. This is something we all know we need to do, but as things stand, by the time there is what is seen as overwhelming demand for grid expansion, it is very hard for grid development to catch up.

Responding to this amendment in Committee, the Minster also said that Ofgem would be keen to avoid any confusion over the need to balance decarbonisation, affordability and security of supply. I agree: Ofgem has repeatedly made it clear that it would welcome such clarification. My amendment does not alter those other aspects of Ofgem’s remit or weaken them in any way. It is for the Government to clarify to Ofgem how those various trade-offs can be balanced.

As I said, Amendment 132 in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blake of Leeds, would ensure that the long-awaited strategy and policy statement setting out the Government’s priorities is published within six months—something that is overdue and badly needed. But as all the committees and trade bodies I have cited make clear, doing this does not detract from the need for legislative change to reflect our 2050 targets.

We should not miss the opportunity given by the Bill to update the consumer interests that must be protected when Ofgem carries out its functions to include our statutory responsibilities to achieve net zero by 2050. I end by reminding the House of the contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Hollick, in Committee. He said that it would be ironic if the regulator most responsible for regulating the journey to net zero is one of the only regulators which does not have a specific responsibility in its remit. I hope we can persuade the Minister to agree.

My Lords, I declare my interest as a member of Peers for the Planet. I am speaking specifically to Amendment 133—so excellently spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman—to which I have added my name. I also support the other amendments in this group.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, has made clear, the future systems operator, which will regulate under the terms of the Bill in future, will have a statutory net-zero objective linked specifically to our climate change targets. Currently, Ofgem does not have that, and this amendment simply seeks to bring it into line. The consequences of an ill-defined and time-limited free objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is that Ofgem is not giving sufficient weight to net zero and focusing instead on near-term energy costs, which do not properly recognise the cost impacts for future consumers of delaying specific action to achieve net zero.

The network companies are therefore currently incentivised not to plan ahead. Instead, they are encouraged to defer investment to the last possible moment, and not to anticipate the increases in long-term demand that we are all aware are coming. This has discouraged future-proofing of our energy infrastructure and left us with an ageing network infrastructure that is not really fit for purpose now, let alone for 2050, with constraints and delayed reinforcements being a barrier to connections for housing developments and to the connection of low-carbon power, transport and heating. The reality is that we will need much more grid infrastructure due to the decarbonisation of heat—which is commendably legislated for in the Bill—and of transport through the increased take-up of electric vehicles.

The Financial Times reported last year that renewable energy developers are being told that they will have to wait six to 10 years to connect to regional distribution networks. RenewableUK has highlighted that, in Scotland, a significant number of offshore wind farms that were granted leases last year by the Crown Estate Scotland will not be able to get a grid connection until the mid-2030s. Clearly, there is not a sufficient sense of urgency. Indeed, part of this is likely to be due to the non-specificity of the timescale for achieving net zero that Ofgem currently has.

There is a specific example of a 3-gigawatt east coast offshore wind farm being developed by RWE. This will be instrumental in meeting the Government’s 2030 net-zero target, but it has a grid connection date of 2032.

I care as much as anyone about rising energy prices. I realise that consumers must be looked after. The cost of infrastructure is going to impact on bills. Nobody wants to pay more needlessly. If we look to the long run, it is worth being more specific and adding these kinds of targets to Ofgem’s remit now. The amendment will not upend Ofgem’s other duties. The interests of current and future consumers will still be considered as a whole. They will continue to include security of supply and fulfilment by the authority of its designated regulatory objectives. All this will do is to give a renewed, sharper focus.

I ask the Government to think again about these proposals. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, said, they have industry-wide support. I will listen carefully to my noble friend’s response.

My Lords, I am aware of the desire to get to votes, so I shall be brief. It is a great pleasure to follow the noble Baronesses, Lady Altmann and Lady Hayman. They have overwhelmingly made the case for Amendment 133 and the need for the systems operator to have that net-zero duty.

I shall briefly address Amendment 1, which sets the tone and direction of this debate in an important way. The noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, made the case for the need for an energy system to deliver for net zero. I want to focus on one word in Amendment 1—“resilience” and the need to increase it. We are now in the age of shocks. So many shocks have hit the world and our country, whether they be climatic, health or economic. There is a need for resilience. There is an idea that we can pick off these new, shiny technologies and say, “Great, we will chase after this or after that”. We should look at the basics, starting with an energy system which understands that the cleanest, greenest, cheapest, best possible energy is the one you do not need to use.

I am not sure that the report is out yet, but it is worth noting anecdotally the interesting experiments in energy demand that have happened during the winter. They will ensure that we can manage the peaks of demand and have less need for generation overall. I wanted to set out that focus on resilience because, in later amendments, we will get to the issue of community energy—local energy generation systems in local communities, spread around our islands. These will give us a real foundation of resilience and security that we desperately need for the future.

My Lords, perhaps for the purpose of the whole of Report, I should declare my interest at chair of Aldustria Ltd, which is concerned with battery storage.

I liked the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, today, as well as the speeches he gave on the levelling-up Bill debate yesterday evening. There is an important need for an understandable programme that moves us forward—a route map that works, rather than just targets and slogans. Of course, we will have Green Day on Thursday. When the Minister replies, could he give us a few clues as to what will be said then? The House would be all ears and grateful for the advance information. I thought that the net-zero report, commissioned by the Government and produced by his honourable colleague, Chris Skidmore MP, was an excellent document. I hope that the Government can say that we will be moving ahead in a comprehensive way in much of the area under discussion.

I will speak mainly about the three amendments that we have around Ofgem. It is just stark staringly obvious that Ofgem, our regulator for the energy industry, should have a net-zero objective. I cannot see how you can argue against that, for all the reasons that the noble Baronesses, Lady Hayman and Lady Altmann, have gone through so well. If there was one example of that to me, it is that Ofgem has clearly been very effective in its own mind at making decisions for customers of today but has been utterly unable to make decisions for customers of future generations. That area of the grid is now utterly incapable of delivering; whether it is offshore, onshore or developments on the residential side, those connections and that grid are unable to help us to move towards those net-zero objectives. On connection dates, I know one of 2035, which just happens to be the year when the Government’s target is to have finished decarbonising the electricity grid. Clearly we are not going to make that unless we move it forward very quickly, and I have concerns that we will already not be able to meet it.

The Minister and others in his position have said, all the time, “This is not necessary—it is already covered.” However, those examples already given by the noble Baronesses in the debate show that the directions and the objectives that the Government now have are not sufficient, and that this needs to change. We need to change it now, otherwise our decarbonisation of the grid by 2035, let alone net zero by 2050, will be missed. That cannot be allowed; these amendments must be part of the Bill.

My Lords, my thanks to noble Lords who have spoken in the debate: the noble Lords, Lord Ravensdale and Lord Teverson, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Hayman, Lady Altmann and Lady Bennett. I will quickly review what I think they said and set out our amendment.

The noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, set out the principal purpose for the Bill. Split in four ways, it will: increase energy systems’

“resilience and reliability … support the delivery of the UK’s climate change commitments … reform the UK’s energy system while minimising costs to consumers and protecting them from unfair pricing”,

and improve the overall efficiency of the UK energy system and economy. It also requires an annual report to Parliament on the above. The first three of those points are lifted directly from the opening paragraph of the Explanatory Notes, while the fourth is also an objective of the ISOP simply made wider.

Labour tabled an amendment in Committee, and I will remind noble Lords of its contents. The context of that was, at that time, the cost of living crisis; the energy price cap was going up to £3,549 per year. National Energy Action predicted that the number of UK households in fuel poverty would rise to 8.9 million. Tory leadership candidates at that time were vying for leadership to be Prime Minister but were running away from the issue of net zero; the High Court found that the net-zero climate strategy was inadequate, and the Climate Change Committee found that credible plans existed for only 39% of emissions, citing “major policy failures” and “scant evidence of delivery”. As regards energy security at that time, gas prices were expected to surge to record highs the week after the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was shut down, and European prices had risen by nearly 400% over the past year. The UK relies on gas for about 40% of its power generation, and even more on the coldest days when demand is high and wind generation tends to be low. In 2017, a BEIS report included a scenario for a complete cut-off of Russian gas and found that the UK could see “significant unmet demand” if the cut was prolonged and continental European countries paid whatever was necessary.

However, the Bill is a hotchpotch of things thrown together, lacking an overarching theme to tackle these issues. Our amendments would have set out a purpose for the Act, increasing resilience and reliability; supporting the delivery of UK’s climate change commitments; reforming energy systems; binding the Secretary of State and public authorities to these purposes; requiring the Secretary of State to designate a statement as a strategy and policy statement with regard to the purpose of the Act; and requiring the Secretary of State to review the strategy and policy statement on a five-year basis. That would have forced successive Governments into long-term thinking about the specific purpose, not limiting the impact and ambition of the Bill to what has been tacked together, which simply does not go far enough or tackle the immediate problems.

The amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, would place gas and electricity markets under a duty to assist in the delivery of net zero, and our amendment would require the Secretary of State to designate a statement giving GEMA a mandate for considering the role of energy in supporting government policy in achieving net zero. The amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, would include in Ofgem’s general duties a specific requirement to have regard to meeting the UK’s net-zero emissions.

Briefing from RenewableUK sets out the argument for Ofgem remit reform. It states:

“Ofgem’s remit has not changed since its establishment in 2000, and does not prioritise electricity decarbonisation”—

in line with recent government legislation or stated ambitions. It has only a consideration of greenhouse reduction. It continues:

“As a result, Ofgem has been unable to substantially reform its working practices and regulatory frameworks in response to the 2008 Climate Change Act and the UK’s subsequent net zero ambition, to detriment of renewable energy investment and decarbonisation pace.”

It goes on to say that the Government have an opportunity to reform Ofgem’s remit in the Bill we are addressing today.

There is some key evidence for that. Mike Thompson, the Climate Change Committee’s chief economist, noted the integration of energy with transport and heat, including the potential for

“cars sitting on driveways acting as batteries and putting electricity back into the grid”.

He argued that there is a

“need for real integration and a regulator that can think from a systems perspective”,

suggesting that hydrogen and heat networks should be within Ofgem’s remit.

Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said:

“Planning the system and setting how it evolves should not really be done by the regulator. The regulator’s job is to make sure that that is done efficiently and effectively by the companies concerned.”

We appreciate that argument.

A number of witnesses told the committee that the net-zero target should be included explicitly within Ofgem’s statutory duties. Dr Hardy said that he would

“put net zero up top”,

balancing out its other duties against the context of

“hitting that legislated carbon target”.

Professor Mitchell said that

“net zero has to be the raison d’être of Ofgem”

and argued that

“delivering on legally enshrined commitments to decarbonise”

should form part of Ofgem’s principal duty.

The committee concluded:

“To ensure that, on an enduring basis, the appropriate focus is given to net zero within its competing priorities, we recommend that Ofgem’s duties should be amended to include explicit reference to having due regard to the net zero target. While Ofgem maintains that net zero considerations already factor into its decision-making, adding net zero explicitly to its statutory duties will serve to make this clear.”

We feel that the UK needs not to be left behind but to show similar ambition in its plans for the future of the electricity industry, including Ofgem’s remit.

First, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, and the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, for bringing forward Amendments 1 and 136 and the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for his contribution to the debate. As I set out in Committee, although the Government believe these amendments are well intentioned, ultimately, they are unnecessary. First, the Bill has a clear purpose, so I do not think any introductory clauses are necessary. Where appropriate, the Bill already sets out fairly clear objectives and general duties for the Secretary of State and other specified bodies in carrying out their functions under the relevant parts.

Secondly, in regard to an annual report, I assume noble Lords are aware that the Energy Act 2013 introduced the power for the designation of a strategy and policy statement that sets out the Government’s strategic priorities for energy policy, the roles and responsibilities of those implementing such policy, and the policy outcomes that we want to see achieved. We have committed to a second statutory consultation this spring. I therefore believe that an annual report to Parliament would cause unnecessary duplication of the existing strategy and policy statement.

Amendment 136 seeks a national electrification and power plan. I of course agree with the noble Lord that electrification plays an important role in energy security, affordable energy, and meeting net zero. That is why it is a core part of the net-zero strategy and British energy security strategy. I fear that I shall disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Teverson—I often seem to do that, but particularly on this occasion—by being able to go no further than saying that by the end of the week, the Government will publish more details about the approach to delivering energy security, consistent with achieving net zero by 2050. I am sure the noble Lord will understand that I cannot set out more details to this House before the other place has been informed, but he will not have long to wait before he receives further details. In some respects, this Report stage is slightly in advance of that, but by the second day of Report, the House will have a lot more information at its disposal. I hope the reassurance that I have been able to give is enough for what the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, is seeking, but the announcement later this week will also provide further details on the Government’s approach to transforming the electricity system.

I turn to Amendment 130, tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Teverson and Lord Lennie; Amendment 132, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, and Amendment 133, tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Teverson and Lord Hollick, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and my noble friend Lady Altmann, regarding Ofgem’s role in achieving net zero. Again, as I said in Committee, the Government agree with the intent of these amendments but, as we also discussed, we do not think they are necessary. The noble Lord, Lord Lennie, quoted Jonathan Brearley, the chief executive of Ofgem; I actually spoke to him earlier today and was able to receive the reassurance that both he and the Ofgem board have been clear that decarbonisation and the path to the UK’s net-zero goals are already a fundamental part of their duty to protect the interests of future consumers. They have stated that.

I have just mentioned the strategy and policy statement for energy policy in Britain. This document will offer strategic steers to Ofgem on how to deliver the Government’s energy priorities, which will include providing a strengthened focus on the Government’s net-zero goals to embolden Ofgem to take the challenging decisions that will help decarbonisation in Great Britain and ensure that the energy system is fit for the future.

Ultimately, we agree with the intent of the amendments and will continue to consider the matter during the Bill’s passage in the other place. However, I encourage Peers to reconsider them at this point and note that, for the strategy and policy statement to be designated, it must of course come before Parliament and be approved by a resolution of each House, so Members will get the opportunity to have their say on such a strategy in the future.

Before the noble Lord sits down, I would be very grateful if he can tell me why he thinks so many other people disagree with him on this—so many people who are regulated by the regulator, and so many reports, from your Lordships’ House, the Skidmore report, and from the CCC. Why does the rest of the world not get it?

I think it is very easy for other people who are not directly engaged in the business of regulation to think that adding a statutory duty will be the magical cause of all the different elements of the energy system that they want to contribute to. But, of course, what we should also remember is that placing a duty in primary legislation also makes it justiciable.

I am sure there are plenty of lawyers in this House, and lots of litigation is already flying around on net-zero duties—the Government, indeed, need to respond to further litigation by the end of the week. If the House wants to give yet more work to their learned friends—of course, all the costs of that are ultimately borne by consumers—then the House is free to do that. We continue to keep the matter under review, but we are very clear, as is Ofgem, that Ofgem feels as though it already has this responsibility. I hope that Peers will think again.

Before my noble friend sits down, is there any chance that the Government might reconsider this? Will he consider that the future system operator will have this remit? The FCA, the PRA under the current Financial Services and Markets Bill, the NHS, and the Advanced Research and Invention Agency will all have this specific remit written in. Why do the Government so reject putting it in the Bill for Ofgem?

Because the other bodies do not have the responsibility for regulating the energy system. I do not see why that is so difficult for my noble friend to understand.

My Lords, to sum up my Amendments 1 and 136, the important part of the whole Bill for me is to bring into being the future system operator, which will be a key enabler for much of what we have been talking about today. In the end, it will provide advice to the Government, and it is the responsibility of the DESNZ to own the development of a plan for our future electricity-generating system.

The amendments proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, align with what I am talking about around linking up the duty for Ofgem. They pointed out the links between it and the future system operator, and talked about making sure that it is coherent and that we think more strategically to reduce costs to the consumer in the long term.

Another important point is tackling long-term under- investment in the grid, as brought out by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, and the noble Baroness, Lady Altmann. Alongside the increase in generating capacity that we require, there is just as much of a challenge in our grid infrastructure and ensuring that the grid connections are there to make use of that.

The Minister gave me some reassurance with the announcements that he said were due later this week on the energy system and on the electricity system in particular. I look forward to that event with great interest and, for now, beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Clause 1: Principal objectives and general duties of Secretary of State and economic regulator

Amendment 2

Moved by

2: Clause 1, page 2, line 7, at end insert—

“(d) assist the delivery of greenhouse gas emission targets as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008, including any carbon budgets set under that Act and climate targets specified in subsection (8).”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment places an equivalent principal duty on the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority to assist in the delivery of Net Zero, alongside protecting the interests of current and future transport and storage network users. This would enable Ofgem to better justify and evidence decisions enabling strategic anticipatory investment.

Ironically, I am also going to talk about some of the responsibilities for Ofgem in among other issues. If noble Lords look at the Explanatory Statement, they will see that we are talking about how to put in place a setting within which Ofgem can better justify and evidence decisions enabling strategic anticipatory investment.

I make the point that I am the honorary president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association. The CCSA has grown considerably in the past two years, because of all the interest in carbon capture. We have been marched up to the top of the hill more than once, but this time we hope that we will be able to deliver.

Amendment 2 talks about the importance of enabling rapid network expansion. For us to meet the emissions reduction targets, carbon capture and storage will need to be rolled out rapidly across the UK during the rest of the decade. One role of the CCSA that I find extremely interesting is its interchange with the industry. There are some big companies in it but there are also small, cutting-edge companies involved in the development of how we cope with carbon capture, storage and utilisation.

I ask the Minister to bear in mind that it is not just Ofgem that needs to understands its remit; we need to look further and ensure that, throughout the industry, there is confidence, consistency and certainty, because the amount of money that will have to be invested in this is very considerable. To capture and store 30 million tonnes a year by 2030, as per the net-zero strategy, we will need to go from absolutely nothing to building significant CO2 infrastructure in a very short space of time, connecting capture projects continually throughout the 2020s. The industry wholeheartedly welcomes the Government’s recent commitment of £20 billion to build the industry up from scratch. It is therefore vital that Ofgem has updated duties that enable it to justify investment to allow for the rapid network expansion to connect more carbon sites to a growing suite of storage sites.

A lot of this is being done elsewhere. We have an opportunity to be leaders in carbon capture, utilisation and storage, but we need help from the Government, and signals need to be given out. Twenty billion pounds is a very large sum of money but it is not enough; it is estimated that around £50 billion will be needed. Some of that can come from private investment—indeed, it is important that it does—but there needs to be the degree of certainty that I spoke about a couple of seconds ago.

In Committee we debated Ofgem’s powers and whether its role in delivering net zero while protecting current and future users of the network is sufficiently clear. My noble friend Lord Foulkes, who is also a signatory to this amendment, stressed this time and again during those debates. The point was also made much more dramatically by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman. How is it that so many people out there do not think that Ofgem has the right environment, role or powers to deal with the complexity of these issues?

Ofgem’s current set of duties makes it difficult to justify strategic investment in networks, as this would increase costs to current users in the short term. This is the dilemma that has to be got across. This has been an ongoing issue of concern, as raised in the National Infrastructure Commission’s 2019 regulation review, Strategic Investment and Public Confidence, which recommended that economic regulators’ duties be updated to facilitate long-term investment in networks, and, more recently—referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson —in the Skidmore review.

While the Government should be commended—and I do commend them—for proposing that the duties of the economic regulator should include consideration of the needs of existing and future users, a principal duty to deliver net zero by 2050 would help the regulator to effectively balance these two equally important factors. However, it should be noted that, outside of the regulator’s core duties, the Bill includes a further requirement for the regulator to support the Secretary of State in having regard to the Climate Change Act 2008 and the new CCUS strategy and policy statement. That should go some way to addressing this.

However, it is not enough that these mechanisms are not as strong as the regulator’s own duties. This amendment is essential to give the regulator the necessary powers to make decisions that enable the required strategic anticipatory investment on the network. Ofgem will need to be empowered to make well-justified decisions, balancing the interests of current and future transport and storage network users with delivering net zero.

I move on to Amendment 3, which would add to the licensing regime to make it fit for the future. There is a global race on CCUS, with the US and Europe making significant progress in the past 12 months. This is not something that happened years ago; it is happening now. Ever since we submitted the first amendments to this Bill, other countries have got ahead of us. If we are to stay at the front, the industry will need to grow and develop at pace. This amendment will ensure it can do that.

Members may have noticed that the Danish Government made fast work of getting their first injection of CO2 to the Greensand field recently. That was launched to much fanfare. Norway is planning infrastructure to connect its CO2 stores to mainland Europe. I have always been in awe of the speed with which Norway can move on these issues. Like Norway, the UK has significant geological assets—many of them, I should say with my accent, are in Scotland—with a third of Europe’s entire offshore CO2 storage potential at 7,000 million tonnes. That is a dramatic figure and equal to all the EU states combined. Only Norway, with 8,000 million tonnes, has more in Europe.

While the economic regulated model is essential for the initial monopoly networks that will enable domestic industrial decarbonisation, we need to future-proof the regulatory system by enabling private operators to develop merchant models to transport and store carbon dioxide in the longer term. That would be the kind of expenditure within that £50 billion I spoke about a couple of minutes ago. This amendment will enable cross-border transport and geological storage of carbon dioxide to develop over time without having to rely on exemptions being granted to allow private networks to develop.

The enormous potential to offer CO2 storage services to European and other countries presents a terrific opportunity for the UK to become a global leader in CCUS and to accelerate global efforts to prevent CO2 emissions. The legislative framework should avoid any future barriers to cross-border transportation of CO2. The Government want a growth agenda—the Chancellor has repeatedly referred to it—but for us to develop that agenda we really need to make sure that we have the structures in place that would allow it to grow.

This amendment would ensure necessary consistency —which I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks—with the existing regulatory regime for the granting of geological storage licences by the Oil and Gas Authority, now the North Sea Transition Authority, under the Storage of Carbon Dioxide (Licensing etc.) Regulations 2010. The Secretary of State is having regard to the Climate Change Act 2008, and the new CCUS strategy and policy statement should go some way to addressing this.

However, in practice these mechanisms are not as strong as the regulator’s own duties. This amendment is necessary to give the regulator the necessary powers to make decisions that enable the required strategic anticipatory investment on the network. Ofgem will need to be empowered to make well-justified decisions, balancing the interests of current and future transport and storage network users with delivering net zero.

I hope the Minister will take this seriously. If I have not convinced him, will he sit down and talk to the industry itself?

My Lords, I will speak to my Amendment 33, which is around the decommissioning costs of carbon capture and storage installations. First, I will read what is in Clause 85(1) about financing costs:

“The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for requiring relevant persons to provide security for the performance of obligations relating to the future abandonment or decommissioning of carbon dioxide-related sites, pipelines or installations.”

It is not often that one is shocked in Grand Committee in the Moses Room. Normally it is a feeling of impotence when you are going through SIs, rather than some sort of greater emotion, but I was shocked when we discussed this. I asked the Minister how we protect the funds that are for decommissioning at some point way into the future. How are we sure that they are not like the dodgy builder who takes your deposit and then, when you ask him or her to decorate your house, the phone is no longer answered and the money has disappeared? How do we know, in this rather difficult area of energy, that those “relevant persons”, and more importantly their banks accounts, will still be there so that in some distant future, maybe decades ahead, this money is available?

If I am honest, when I had the answer from the Minister—which I cannot quote as I have not looked it up—I was shocked that there did not seem to be any provision for protection of the rather large sums that I expect to be there. That is why I have introduced this amendment. It is very simple and demands that when these payments are made they are effectively put into an escrow account, or at least a ring-fenced fund of some sort, so that they are there when these facilities need to be decommissioned. It is then up to the Secretary of State to agree when that money can be disbursed so that decommissioning can take place or disbursed because the funds are no longer needed.

It is as simple as that. It is about protecting that money that we as taxpayers and citizens of the UK are owed when that decommissioning happens and making sure that the money really is paid rather than having disappeared at the time. I see no guarantee within the three pages of other details about how these funds should work. I hope the Minister can come back to me and reassure me that, if he is not going to accept this amendment, the Government will ensure that this money is ring-fenced and is there for us and future generations when we reach that decommissioning point.

My Lords, I declare my interest in the register as a director of Peers for the Planet.

I shall speak to only one amendment in this group, Amendment 33, in the name of my noble friend Lord Teverson, to which I have added my name. It aims to ensure that decommissioning funds, as the noble Lord has explained, are available for decommissioning when the time comes. I support it not least because it complements Amendment 222A, which I tabled in Committee, on transparency of decommissioning, particularly with respect to future taxpayer liability for decommissioning relief deeds, which are agreements between the individual oil and gas companies and the Treasury. The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have both expressed concern about this public liability. I quote from the 2019 NAO report on decommissioning:

“With decommissioning activity increasing, the government is paying out more in tax reliefs for decommissioning at the same time as tax revenues have fallen due to a combination of lower production rates, a reduction in oil and gas prices and operators incurring high tax-deductible expenditure.”

That represents a triple whammy for UK taxpayers since, as the report says, for the first time ever, in 2016-17,

“the government paid out more to oil and gas operators in tax reliefs than it received from them.”

The scenario under which that public subsidy of oil and gas production took place in 2016-17—that is, the triple whammy of lower production rates, a reduction in oil and gas prices and operators incurring high tax-deductible expenditure—is the future outlook for the gas and oil sector as the world moves ever more rapidly towards decarbonisation. The USA’s inflation reduction Acts and the imminent EU response via the green deal industrial plan will turbocharge that transition, and rapid transformative change is very visible on the horizon.

While oil and gas expansion currently looks secure, it is only artificially so, given the very generous tax reliefs, subsidies and other support that the Government continue to provide, not least via decommissioning relief deeds. With over 100 new licences for exploration and production on offer, the risk of stranded assets is compounded hugely. Why do the Government persist in giving preferential treatment to fossil fuel producers? That is a question that I have put to the Minister before on several occasions, and I hope that this time there might be an answer.

It used to be that a ceiling of sorts was kept on the overall cost to the taxpayer by the fact that a firm could not claim back more in decommissioning tax relief than it had previously paid in tax. That makes sense but, since 2017, the Government have explicitly said that when firms default the partner firms that pick up the bill can claim back more in tax relief than they have ever paid. That certainly needs some digesting.

It cannot be right to put on life support an industry that has had its day—life support that is publicly funded. The amendment asks the Government to take precautions with the public purse, uphold the “polluter pays” principle and ensure that operators of new fields and buyers of existing ones accept that they cannot escape their responsibility to our planet, the one and only planet that we have.

My Lords, in speaking to the amendments in this group, I particularly thank my noble friend Lady Liddell for the well-informed and detailed explanation of why the amendments in her name and that of my noble friend Lord Foulkes are so important and relevant. What we heard was the crossover between the considerations within these amendments and the discussions that we had on the previous group regarding the work that we believe needs to be done to strengthen the hand of Ofgem, particularly to justify and evidence decisions, as we heard, enabling strategic anticipatory investment.

What we have to focus on here, running through all our discussions today, is the sense that we in the UK are falling behind. As described, Amendment 2 in particular speaks to how we can achieve the confidence of investors, and indeed the public, to make the case for the seemingly vast amounts of money that need to be invested—although we know that, in the scheme of what we need to do, the money identified does not come anywhere near the expenditure that we will have to bring forward.

The most important desire in the amendments, which has been eloquently expressed and I hope the Minister can address it, is, particularly in this case, to know how the steps forward will protect the current and future users of carbon dioxide transport and storage networks in particular. Running through all the discussions that we have to have on the Bill is the need to protect the interests of consumers as well as promoting the efficient economic development and operation of the transport and storage networks that we are discussing. The other area is ensuring that licence holders are indeed able to finance activities.

I want to reference the many government amendments; we all know there are many amendments throughout the Bill from the Government, which is worth a comment in itself. I too express frustration that throughout the narrative that is expressed there is ambition and a recognition of enormous potential, but unfortunately, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, so eloquently put it, there is a growing sense from many key players that that ambition and potential have not been matched by action. I hope the Minister can give us confidence that by the end of this week we will get a sense of where that support, and the necessary link to action, will come from. It is an enormous missed opportunity for the whole country and its potential in terms of jobs and providing for our energy requirements that we now have this reputation of falling behind.

Protecting our assets is crucial. I want to add my comments about how the regulations will make access to the infrastructure more appropriate, and how they can amend the carbon dioxide regulations of 2011.

I recognise the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, supported by Baroness Sheehan, and I very much look forward to hearing the answer. Protecting funds in this area has to be critical, but I am not sure that we yet know how that is going to be achieved.

I thank everyone who contributed to the debate. If the House will have a little patience, I will first take some time to set out and explain the government amendments in this group, before I come on to the non-government amendments.

Amendment 4 to Clause 9 ensures that, ahead of making any regulations under this power, there should first be consultation with the economic regulator and the appropriate devolved authorities.

Amendments 5 and 6 to Clause 19 preserve the independence of the economic regulator by removing the power for the Secretary of State to direct the economic regulator not to impose conditions in consenting to the transfer of a licence.

Amendment 7 clarifies that the requirement to provide information to the Secretary of State or the CMA under Clause 28 is in relation only to Ofgem’s functions under Part 1 of the Bill, not to any of its other functions.

Amendment 8 clarifies that, under Clause 29, disclosure of information to the economic regulator does not breach any obligation of confidence owed by the licence holder making the disclosure, or any other restriction on the disclosure of information. It also clarifies that this provision does not authorise a contravention of data protection legislation.

Amendment 9 provides updated definitions of a “final order” and “provisional order” in Clause 31—these are consequential on amendments made to Clause 32 in Committee, which inserted a new Schedule 3, setting out the enforcement measures in the Bill.

Amendments 10 to 12 and 15 concern the list of persons whom the Secretary of State must consult under Clause 46 before modifying the terms of a company’s licence in relation to a transport and storage administration order. These amendments make it clear that there should be consultation with the relevant storage licensing authority where a carbon storage licence is in place.

On Amendment 35, we must mitigate the risk that decommissioning liabilities fall to the taxpayer, given that the Government ultimately sit as the decommissioner of last resort. Section 29 of the Petroleum Act 1998 enables the Secretary of State to serve notices that require the recipient to submit a decommissioning programme for an installation or pipeline. The Section 29 regime is therefore a key lever in mitigating that risk.

Amendment 35 proposes amendments to Section 30 of the Energy Act 2008, which would enable modifications to Sections 30, 31 and 45 of the Petroleum Act 1998, in its application to the decommissioning of carbon storage installations. These modifications seek to ensure that the Secretary of State can issue a Section 29 decommissioning notice on entities with a licence for CCUS activities, under Section 18 of the Energy Act 2008. This will enable the Secretary of State to impose decommissioning obligations on CCUS licensees, among other persons.

Amendment 36 proposes an amendment to Section 29 of the Petroleum Act 1998. Under current legislation, a new Section 29 notice cannot be issued on assets that have already been included in a decommissioning programme, unless that programme is rejected or approval for it is withdrawn. This would mean that, if an oil and gas asset were subsequently repurposed for use in a CCUS network, the Secretary of State may not be able to serve a new Section 29 notice on the CCUS operators of that asset without first rejecting, or withdrawing approval for, the existing decommissioning programme. This could lead to a gap in liability for decommissioning a repurposed asset, which of course increases the risk to the taxpayer. The amendment seeks to ensure that the Secretary of State can issue a new Section 29 notice on assets that are already within an approved decommissioning programme, thus mitigating the risks.

Amendments 37 to 39 clarify the duties in Clause 92 for the Secretary of State and the economic regulator to carry out their respective functions with regard to considerations in a CCUS strategy and policy statement. The amendments clarify that these duties apply only to functions relevant to the strategic priorities set out in the statement, and related to carbon dioxide capture, usage and storage policy. The amendments seek to exclude other functions set out in Part 2, which relate to hydrogen production that may not rely on CCUS, such as hydrogen produced via electrolysis. They seek to expressly exclude hydrogen levy functions.

Amendments 41 to 47 to Clause 99 ensure that sufficient powers are available to the Secretary of State to be able to update or make new access to infrastructure regulations, should that be appropriate to ensure that access arrangements remain fit for purpose. In particular, updates to the existing regulations may be needed in light of the new economic licensing framework established in Part 1. These amendments are necessary because the existing regulations were made using the powers in Section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, and there are currently no domestic powers to update, replace or make new access to infrastructure regulations.

Amendment 14 to Schedule 5 ensures that, where appeals are made to the Competition and Markets Authority in respect of a decision made by the economic regulator for carbon dioxide transport and storage, a “specialist utility” group is convened to hear such an appeal. This is consistent with provisions for licence modification appeals in the Gas Act 1986, the Electricity Act 1989 and the Water Industry Act 1991, as I am sure the House is aware.

I move to the non-government amendments. Amendment 33 requires CCUS decommissioning funds to be ring-fenced. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for his contribution. The Government’s view is that the primary purpose of a funded decommissioning regime is to provide assurance that decommissioning liabilities for CCUS assets will be paid, mitigating the risk that these liabilities fall to the taxpayer—we share the noble Lord’s concern about this. The noble Lord asked me for reassurance that the funds will be ring-fenced. The Government agree that appropriate safeguards will need to be put in place to ensure that the funds carry out the desired function.

The Government’s 2021 consultation on establishing a funded CCUS decommissioning regime set out our proposals for access to the decommissioning funds and, in particular, the expectations for ring-fencing and regulatory authorisation for any withdrawals. The Government expect that the decommissioning funds will be overseen by the economic regulator, to ensure that the funds are accruing appropriately. In addition, the intention is that the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning will need to authorise any withdrawal requests made by the operator to ensure that use of the funds is restricted to decommissioning-related purposes.

The noble Lord will be pleased to know that the Government plan shortly to publish an update document, which will include further detail on regulatory oversight of the decommissioning funds, the holding arrangements and, crucially, the protection against insolvency. The Government intend to set out the requirements for appropriate restrictions and safeguards for the fund in regulations and guidance. These requirements will be essentially technical in nature, so it is the Government’s view that it would be more appropriate to set these out in secondary legislation.

I move to Amendment 2, from the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, and the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, who is not in his place, sadly—I was looking forward to debating with him. It is the Government’s view that this amendment is not necessary. The Secretary of State is already bound by law under the Climate Change Act to ensure that targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are met. Under Clause 1(6), the economic regulator is required to have regard to the need to assist the Secretary of State in complying with his statutory duties under Sections 1 and 4 of the Climate Change Act 2008, and to have regard to the statutory emissions-reduction targets in each of the devolved Administrations.

Anticipatory investment will be essential to scale up CO2 transport and storage networks to meet our CCUS ambitions and net-zero targets. However, this investment must be driven by the needs of the users of the network, both those already connected to a network and, of course, those wanting to connect.

The principal objective for the regulator to protect the interests of both current and future users will achieve this aim. Anticipatory investment decisions will need to be well evidenced, and network expansion and development should provide value for all network users. There is a risk that an additional net-zero principal objective could inadvertently delay network developments; for example, the more principal objectives the regulator has to balance, the greater the likelihood of tensions arising between these objectives, leading to protracted or heavily diluted decisions, and potentially adding further costs and delay to the essential delivery of this infrastructure. Fundamentally, decisions on strategic priorities for CCUS are policy decisions, and a strategy and policy statement for CCUS is the appropriate means of providing strategic direction for the regulator regarding policy considerations and the role and contributions of CCUS in achieving net-zero targets.

I turn now to Amendment 3 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell of Coatdyke. The CO2 transport and storage regulatory investment model has been designed to attract the investment needed to establish and scale up the transport and storage infrastructure crucial to establishing a CCUS industry across the UK. I am pleased to tell her that we are expecting to announce the outcome of the cluster sequencing process this week, with the track 1 project negotiation list. This is indeed a busy week. We will also provide an update on the expansion of the track 1 clusters and—this is crucial to her interests—our plans for track 2. At the end of her remarks, she asked me to sit down and talk to the industry, and I am pleased to tell her that I did exactly that on Monday. CCUS is now part of my ministerial portfolio, and I am co-chairman of the CCUS Council, which, coincidentally, met on Monday afternoon; we had a long discussion about many of these issues.

As carbon dioxide pipelines and storage assets have essential monopolistic characteristics, the economic regulation model also provides important and necessary protections for users of the networks from anti-competitive behaviour, including monopolistic pricing. I am afraid that the amendment does not offer that protection. The regulatory model is also designed to facilitate our long-term vision of a CO2 transport and storage sector which, ultimately, is able to operate without subsidy. However, as I am sure the noble Baroness will accept, CCUS is currently a rather fledging industry, and government support is needed to enable the deployment of the first CCUS networks. To overcome the market barriers to investment which currently exist, there will be both capital and revenue support available for the initial networks, and the vast majority of industrial users connecting to the networks will be supported by either government funding or, in the case of CCUS-enabled power plants, consumer subsidies. It is essential, therefore, that transport and storage infrastructure development represents value for money to both taxpayers and consumers, and that charges for the use of transport and storage services are fair and proportionate. In our view, that is achieved through economic regulation and oversight by an independent economic regulator.

I share the noble Baroness’s desire to ensure sufficient flexibility in the regulatory framework to allow for future market expansion, and we have designed the legislative provisions with exactly that in mind. The power under Clause 8 to create different licence types, with different conditions, will enable the regulatory regime to respond to market developments and to facilitate a lighter-touch form of regulation for offshore activities in future, should that become appropriate. It is not the Government’s intention to inhibit market developments through a framework of economic regulation, but it is important that there are protections in place for users and consumers, and that we are able to respond to any anti-competitive behaviours, should they arise. It is the Government’s view that the alternative licensing framework that the noble Baroness refers to in her amendment does not provide for that.

I apologise for the long update but, reflecting on these points, I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.

Before the Minister sits down, I will ask him to clarify a couple of things. First, I welcome his statements on decommissioning, but can he confirm whether the safeguarding of decommissioning funds will include all fields, both existing and new? Secondly, can he confirm that it is the FCA that will provide the regulatory oversight for decommissioning funds?

It would depend on what the noble Baroness means by “decommissioning funds”. What would the decommissioning funds be for? In response to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, I outlined our intention to ring-fence the CCUS decommissioning funds.

Amendment 2 withdrawn.

Clause 2: Prohibition on unlicensed activities

Amendment 3 withdrawn.

Clause 9: Procedure for licence applications

Amendment 4

Moved by

4: Clause 9, page 9, line 31, after “(2)” insert “or (6)”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment requires proposed regulations under subsection (6) to be consulted on in the same way as regulations under subsection (2).

Amendment 4 agreed.

Clause 19: Consenting to transfer

Amendments 5 and 6

Moved by

5: Clause 19, page 21, line 9, leave out from “transfer,” to end of line 11

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment removes a provision that would have authorised the Secretary of State to direct the economic regulator not to impose conditions on consent to the transfer of a licence. Lord Callanan’s amendment at page 21, line 19 is consequential on this amendment.

6: Clause 19, page 21, line 19, leave out sub-paragraph (ii)

Member's explanatory statement

See the explanatory statement for Lord Callanan’s amendment at page 21, line 9.

Amendments 5 and 6 agreed.

Clause 28: Monitoring, information gathering etc

Amendment 7

Moved by

7: Clause 28, page 27, line 27, at end insert “under this Part”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment clarifies that the duties under subsection (3) relate only to functions under Part 1 of the Bill, not to other functions of the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority.

Amendment 7 agreed.

Clause 29: Power to require information for purposes of monitoring

Amendment 8

Moved by

8: Clause 29, page 28, line 12, at end insert—

“(5) Except as provided by subsection (6), the disclosure of information under this section does not breach—(a) any obligation of confidence owed by the person making the disclosure, or(b) any other restriction on the disclosure of information (however imposed).(6) This section does not authorise or require a disclosure of information if the disclosure would contravene the data protection legislation (but in determining whether a disclosure would do so, a requirement imposed by virtue of subsection (2) is to be taken into account).”Member's explanatory statement

In this amendment new subsection (5) clarifies that disclosure of information under the Clause would not amount to a breach of any other legal restrictions and new subsection (6) clarifies the relationship between the power to require information under the Clause and requirements in data protection legislation.

Amendment 8 agreed.

Clause 31: Reasons for decisions

Amendment 9

Moved by

9: Clause 31, page 30, line 20, leave out from second “order”” to end of line 22 and insert “have the same meaning as in Schedule 3 (see paragraph 1(12) of that Schedule).”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment updates subsection (4) to take account of amendments made in Committee which affected the way “final order” and “provisional order” are defined in Part 1.

Amendment 9 agreed.

Clause 46: Modification of conditions of licences

Amendments 10 to 12

Moved by

10: Clause 46, page 42, line 29, after “licence” insert “(“the section 7 licence”)”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is supplementary to Lord Callanan’s amendment at page 43, line 4.

11: Clause 46, page 43, line 4, leave out paragraphs (b) and (c) and insert—

“(b) if the section 7 licence authorises activities within section 2(2)(a), the person who granted any associated licence under section 18 of the Energy Act 2008, and”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment, which is supplemented by Lord Callanan’s amendments at page 42 line 29, page 43 line 12 and page 49 line 27, amends the list of persons whom the Secretary of State must consult before exercising the powers under subsection (1).

12: Clause 46, page 43, line 12, leave out subsection (6) and insert—

“(6) For the purposes of this section, a licence under section 18 of the Energy Act 2008 (“the carbon storage licence”) is an “associated licence” in relation to the section 7 licence if—(a) the carbon storage licence is in respect of activities within section 17(2)(a) of that Act, and(b) any part of the site to which the section 7 licence relates is within any place to which the carbon storage licence relates.”Member's explanatory statement

See Lord Callanan’s amendment at page 43, line 4.

Amendments 10 to 12 agreed.

Schedule 5: Amendments related to Part 1

Amendment 13

Moved by

13: Schedule 5, page 262, line 2, leave out “Nuclear Energy (Financing)” and insert “Energy Prices”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment takes account of the passing of the Energy Prices Act 2022, which inserted a reference to that Act in section 105(1)(a) of the Utilities Act 2000, since this Bill was introduced.

My Lords, in moving Amendment 13, I will also speak to Amendments 58, 63, 75, 78, 79, 95 and 143 in my name.

Turning first to Amendments 58 and 143, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, for bringing forward his original amendment on the classification of nuclear-derived fuels in Committee. While we believe that we should not categorise nuclear-derived fuels as renewable, I have welcomed the constructive discussion with noble Lords since Committee, and, in response to that, the Government are pleased to bring to forward these amendments.

Amendment 58 will enable the renewable transport fuel obligation and the forthcoming sustainable aviation fuel mandate to support two types of low-carbon fuel, helping the UK to decarbonise transport further, thereby achieving, I think, the noble Lord’s objective. First, it will enable the support of recycled carbon fuels. These are produced from otherwise unrecyclable waste plastics or industrial waste gases that cannot be avoided, reused or recycled. Secondly, it extends support to fuels derived from nuclear energy. Both fuel types have the potential to deliver significant carbon savings over traditional fossil fuels and are a vital replacement for sectors that are difficult to decarbonise, such as commercial aviation and heavy goods vehicles. Amendment 143 sets the timing on which the power comes into force at two months after Royal Assent.

I turn now to Amendment 95, which relates to Part 8 on the regulation of energy smart appliances, specifically under Clause 191, which deals with how energy smart regulations will be enforced. It will enable the regulator to agree an enforcement undertaking with an economic actor, where appropriate, and, if required, it will still issue a penalty on a separate non-compliance issue to the same economic actor. The ability to agree an enforcement undertaking with a business is a useful tool for a regulator. It allows it to work with a business to bring it into compliance without the need for potentially harsher penalties. This will be particularly important in the regulation of energy smart appliances, which is a nascent and evolving market at the moment. Should other, unrelated instances of non-compliance arise while an enforcement undertaking is in place, the regulator still has the power to issue a penalty. The amendment will put that ability beyond any doubt by clarifying that the regulator can issue a penalty against a business with which it has agreed an enforcement undertaking, providing that the two relate to separate issues. The amendment will help to enable the implementation of a consistent and fair enforcement regime for the energy smart appliances market.

Amendments 13 and 63 simply take account of the Energy Prices Act 2022, which has been passed since the Bill was introduced.

Amendments 75, 78 and 79 are minor and technical amendments relating to Schedule 16 on heat networks regulation. Amendment 75 corrects an error in relation to installation and maintenance licences for heat networks by removing the reference to Scotland, where the licensing regime will not apply. The licensing regime will apply in England and Wales, and the Northern Ireland Executive will have powers to introduce an equivalent regime. The regime will not apply in Scotland, as the Scottish Government, I am told, will introduce their own regime.

Amendment 78 simply corrects a typographical error in paragraph 40 of Schedule 16, replacing a reference to “a penalty” with “compensation”.

Finally, Part 9 of the schedule provides for regulations introducing a special administration regime for the heat network sector. It provides for the appropriate authority to modify existing legislation relating to the special administration regime for energy companies to allow for the equivalent introduction of an energy regime for heat networks. Amendment 79 provides a definition of the appropriate authority for paragraph 50 of the schedule, to match the definition in paragraph 61 of that schedule. The appropriate authority in this case is defined as the Secretary of State for England and Wales and Scotland, and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. I beg to move.

My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 58, to which I have added my name. First, I thank the Minister for his constructive approach, and for listening to my amendments in Committee and responding by introducing this amendment, which addresses all of the points in my Committee amendments. I am most grateful. I must also thank his officials for the work that they have put into drafting and finding an acceptable way forward, and for engaging with me throughout the process. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington for her support throughout.

I break down the benefits of this amendment into three broad areas. First, it continues the work that the Government are doing to create a level playing field for low-carbon technologies. We heard the welcome news in the recent Budget Statement that nuclear will be considered as environmentally sustainable, or taxonomy aligned, under the UK green taxonomy. In a similar vein, the renewable transport fuels obligation amendment will allow nuclear to benefit from a subsidy scheme that is already available to renewable operators. This sends a clear message to investors that the Government sit squarely behind nuclear as an environmentally sustainable energy source. It also brings out the important principle of technological independence—to let the market do its job to find the most efficient solutions, but also because for net zero we need to throw the kitchen sink at the problem, if we are going to achieve it.

Secondly, the amendment directly enables a whole range of near-term projects that will help to kick-start the green hydrogen and recycled carbon fuel industries within the UK. With recycled carbon fuels, there are a number of industrial projects being scoped that will be enabled by this amendment—for example, Project Dragon, to use industrial waste gases from Port Talbot to produce ethanol from which recycled carbon fuels, including sustainable aviation fuels, can be derived. By setting strict rules for how to account for emissions, savings of around 70% can be generated when compared with the baseline of using fossil fuels. Those projects, enabled by this amendment, will be an important enabler for decarbonising transport fuels and moving towards a circular economy, saving significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions in future.

For nuclear, there are near-term plans to produce hydrogen from Sizewell B for use in Sizewell C construction, and also in other nuclear projects, including SMRs and AMRs. Particular economic benefits may be gained through using nuclear power to produce hydrogen—for example, high temperature electrolysis, using heat from the nuclear reaction to produce hydrogen much more efficiently than cold electrolysis. Further down the line, using the heat from high temperature reactors to produce hydrogen directly through the sulfur-iodine cycle has the potential to increase efficiency further beyond traditional electrolysis techniques. If the Government are to meet their ambitious hydrogen production targets, nuclear needs to be part of the picture, which will be enabled by this amendment and help kick- start green, or pink, hydrogen production—I sometimes lose track of the colours—in the UK.

Thirdly, the amendment enables these fuel sources to be eligible for the sustainable aviation fuels, or SAF, mandate. Both recycled carbon fuels and nuclear will have a key role to play here. RCF has the potential to produce large volumes of SAF in the near term; in the longer term, the combination of direct air capture and hydrogen production from nuclear could allow power-to-liquid sustainable aviation fuel to be produced economically.

As I said, I am very grateful to the Minister and his officials for working together to make this important change to the Bill.

I shall speak briefly to Amendment 58, which the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, has so eloquently spoken to. I definitely support the nuclear element of this amendment, and I am grateful to the noble Lord for bringing this to our attention, as well as to the Minister for taking it on proactively. However, I have a question around the inclusion of fossil-derived sources of energy in this approach. I am not one to rule things out, and I think that we need to use all the tools available to us, but there is a material difference when you are using a fuel derived from fossil fuels, in that once it is combusted the CO2—the greenhouse gases—will be readmitted to the atmosphere. Can the Minister say a bit more about how something derived from nuclear electricity, which is intrinsically clean, to create a fuel, is different from the waste derived from a fossil source of energy? I just want clarification on that point.

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, and to partly agree and partly disagree with her comments. I speak in strong opposition to government Amendment 58, which is the substantive amendment in this group, buried in the depths of a whole lot of technical detail.

It is worth focusing on what Amendment 58 actually does. The Minister said this in his introduction, but it deserves to be highlighted. The Minister acknowledged that these are not renewable sources of energy, but what we are doing here is to treat them as though they are renewable. That is an important distinction, which clearly needs to be made. It is quite significant.

As the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, said earlier, we have been debating this Bill for eight months or so. The second element of the government amendment, referring to nuclear-derived fuels, reflects something that the noble Lord brought to Committee but, so far as I can recollect across those eight months, recycled carbon fuels have suddenly popped here at Report, without any previous debate at all. That is something that presents an issue when it comes to scrutiny and examination—an issue which the other place, when this Bill reaches it, may well need to look at and consider in some detail, given that your Lordships’ House has not had the opportunity to look at recycled carbon fuels along with some of the issues that the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, raised and which I am going to expand on.

It is worth highlighting that nuclear-derived fuel is now an extremely hot political issue—no pun intended—in Europe. Germany, Spain and Denmark are among the countries opposed to nuclear-derived fuel being classed as a renewable there, in a debate that is going on this very week, as we are meeting now in your Lordships’ House. The opposition from those states says that nuclear energy does not belong within renewable targets and that there is a risk that treating it as though it was renewable will undermine the massive expansion of renewables that we need to hit our climate goals. So this is a replacement-type issue—and that raises a very important point.

When I speak in opposition to this amendment, I am not necessarily saying that we should not, in a limited way, be using recycled carbon fuel of the industrial waste type to which the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, referred, or even, while we have the nuclear plants, nuclear-derived fuel. The question is whether it receives treatment as though it was a renewable when it is not a renewable—that is the question that arises from this amendment.

On recycled carbon fuel, as the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, said, there are some grave concerns about burning fossil fuel wastes, particularly plastics, in incinerators or pyrolysis processes to produce fuels. I can quote some figures on this. When municipal solid waste containing 65% of non-biogenic waste, which is usually mostly plastic, is turned into fuel, the emissions range between 52.6 and 124 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per megajoule. When the waste is all non-renewable, the impact is actually worse than conventional diesel, petrol or kerosene. Even when there are some reductions, at best they are 1% to 14%.

We come to a broader issue, and here I mention the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, who I see is not in his place. Yesterday, on the levelling-up Bill, he was expounding the virtues of the circular economy. Of course, in a circular economy, and thinking about the waste pyramid, the best thing we can possibly do is reduce the amount of waste. There is a risk if we are providing a way out at the other end for plastics, subsidising them as though they were renewables: this could encourage the production of more plastics, which is absolutely the last thing this planet needs, both for climate reasons and for all the other reasons of human health and well-being, microplastics and all the issues we have on a planet that is choked with the stuff already.

There is also the problem, of course, that while recycling is the third-best option—a bad option but not as bad as the others on the waste pyramid—anything that encourages the production of more plastics is an issue. I am aware that the Minister, when we were debating methane earlier this month, complained that people keep quoting scientists at him. I am afraid I am going to do that again, and I make no apology for continuing to do so, because I believe that we should have evidence-based policy that relies on the science. A study was published in Energy in 2017, “The utilisation of oils produced from plastic waste at different pyrolysis temperatures in a DI diesel engine”. I apologise that that is a bit of a mouthful. To boil down the point of this study, there are different ways of doing pyrolysis with fuels made from plastic, but whichever way you do it the air pollution results are worse than diesel.

Many Members of your Lordships’ House will be aware that my noble friend Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb has taken the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill right through the House and has received very wide backing. There is a real issue here: climate is only one of the many threats we face. Air pollution is a very serious issue. Essentially, we are in a position where it is very clear that we have to stop burning stuff and polluting our planet, whether that is carbon dioxide pollution or other pollutants that come from burning fossil fuels or organic materials. There is a very grave danger in this amendment, I suggest.

Given that we are where we are, I am not going to call for a vote on this; I do not think your Lordships’ House is ready. I do not think we have had sufficient debate on this issue to do that, but I very much hope that today’s debate—and others may contribute as well—will be taken on board when the Bill gets to the other place.

My Lords, I also have great concern about this amendment. It seems to me that, on renewable transport fuels, we have a government amendment, in a group of some 20 amendments or more, that changes the taxonomy in the UK, exactly as was said by the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, and the definition of a renewable fuel. I do not think that is particularly good practice; it is the wrong way to do this. I hope that the Commons, when this goes down the other end, will debate it rather more, because it requires a lot more thought.

I can get my head around the nuclear bit with hydrogen, which has now been well explained to me. I was trying to understand this amendment, I must admit, before the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, spoke, but whether it is renewable or not is a debate to be had. I do not have quite such an issue over that, maybe, but it needs to be debated fully. What I have a problem with is more the carbon side, because what we are talking about is no different from energy from waste. Energy from waste is one of the dirtiest forms of energy that is produced. It has other benefits—it does not produce landfill and all that sort of side—but it is not, in any description, a renewable fuel. So I too have great reservations about this amendment. Clearly I am not going to oppose it here today, but I very much hope that the other end of the building will give this much greater scrutiny and see it as a major decision around the taxonomy of renewable fuels and renewable energy when the Bill reaches there.

My Lords, this amendment would allow two other low-carbon fuels to be supported under the existing and forthcoming renewable transport fuel schemes. As we have heard, these are recycled carbon fuels and nuclear-derived fuels. While the noble Lord has created a degree of happiness with the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, some unhappiness still exists around the Chamber. These fuels can provide similar carbon emissions savings to the renewable fuels already considered under these schemes. Furthermore, these fuels are crucial for the production of sustainable aviation fuel, which is imperative to achieving the jet zero strategy and fulfilling the forthcoming sustainable aviation fuel mandate.

I will not speak for long on this, because we want to move on, but this amendment would insert a new clause in Chapter 3 of Part 3 of the Bill, providing for recycled carbon fuel and fuel derived from nuclear energy to be treated as renewable transport fuel. Amendment 74, in the name of my noble friend Lord Whitty, would make it clear that the regulator needs to ensure that consumers of heat networks have equivalent consumer protection to those of other suppliers. The Explanatory Notes say of Clause 166:

“This clause provides that GEMA will be the regulator for heat networks in England, Wales and Scotland. The Secretary of State may introduce regulations to appoint a different regulator by affirmative procedure. The regulator in Northern Ireland will be the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR) subject to a similar power to make changes by secondary legislation.”

I think that is something we can all agree with.

I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. Before I engage in the detail of the amendments, let me respond to the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett. I am sure I have never said that we should not listen to scientists; of course we should, but we should accept that there are sometimes different scientific opinions. I notice that the noble Baroness is very keen to listen to scientists on some occasions, but the Greens are totally opposed to listening to the vast majority of scientists who say that nuclear should provide an essential way of decarbonising the country’s economy.

By way of example, perhaps she would like to look at the mess her Green friends have got themselves into in Germany by their irrational objections to nuclear policy: they have ended up, now that they are in government, supporting the eradication of villages to open more lignite mines, the dirtiest form of coal production, because they got rid of all their nuclear capacity. Obviously they could not have predicted the gas shortages that would come along, but this is the problem you get yourself into with idealistic policies without any practical effect in the real world. Thankfully, I do not think there is any chance of the noble Baroness or her party being in government in the UK to make similar errors and mistakes.

I accept the noble Baroness’s point—yes, that was an error on my behalf. Of course, Patrick Harvie is my opposite number in Scotland and I discuss these matters with him quite often, although we have never had a nuclear discussion yet.

Turning to the amendments, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Ravensdale, Lord Teverson and Lord Lennie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, for their contributions on Amendment 58. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, for his engagement and pay tribute to the excellent work of my officials in drafting the amendments. In response to the very appropriate request by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, for clarification on fossil fuel waste, both the renewable transport fuel obligation and the forthcoming sustainable aviation fuel mandate are underpinned by strict sustainability and eligibility criteria. This includes requiring qualifying fuels to provide minimum greenhouse gas savings when compared with the fossil fuels they displace.

Fuels produced from nuclear energy are considered to be zero carbon; however, it will be important that we do not incentivise the diversion of electricity generated by nuclear power stations from current uses. The RTFO already includes criteria to ensure that renewable energy—

Perhaps the Minister might wish to correct himself. He just referred to nuclear energy as zero carbon. It is of course, as under the Government’s own classification, low carbon.

I think I said fuels produced from nuclear energy, but never mind.

The RTFO already includes criteria to ensure that renewable energy used for fuel production is additional to that which would otherwise be supplied, and the same principles would be developed for nuclear power.

With regards to the waste hierarchy, this policy makes effective use of what otherwise would be difficult to manage waste. RCFs are non-recyclable fossil wastes. Utilising these types of wastes to synthesise fuel is a better end-of-life fate than landfill or incineration. It will be important to mitigate risks and ensure adherence to the UK waste hierarchy, so we are in the process of concluding a consultation on detailed policy proposals to ensure that RCFs contribute to and meet our wider objective of effectively reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of fuels. Sustainability criteria are being carefully formulated in consultation with a wide range of scientists, technical experts, other government departments, fuel suppliers and wider stakeholders to ensure that the risks are carefully managed and mitigated. I hope that provides appropriate reassurance to the noble Baroness.

Amendment 13 agreed.

Amendment 14

Moved by

14: Schedule 5, page 262, line 31, at end insert—

“Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

9 In Schedule 4 to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, in paragraph 35(3) (membership of CMA panel), in the definition of “specialist utility functions”, after paragraph (b) insert—“(ba) an appeal under section 20 of the Energy Act 2023;”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment provides for appeals under Clause 20 to be “specialist utility functions”. This will attract special provisions relating to the composition of groups constituted to carry out such functions.

Amendment 14 agreed.

Clause 55: Interpretation of Part 1

Amendment 15

Moved by

15: Clause 55, page 49, line 27, after ““licence”” insert “, except where the context otherwise requires,”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential on Lord Callanan’s amendment at page 43, line 4.

Amendment 15 agreed.

Clause 57: Revenue Support Contracts

Amendment 16

Moved by

16: Clause 57, page 52, line 2, after “66,” insert “(Payments to relevant market participants),”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment provides for the Parliamentary procedure to which regulations under new Clause (Payments to relevant market participants) are to be subject.

My Lords, in moving Amendment 16 I will speak also to Amendments 20, 21 and 30 standing in my name.

Amendment 30 further clarifies the scope of the modifications that the Secretary of State can make to certain licences for the purposes of facilitating or supporting the enforcement and/or administration of the hydrogen levy. Before making a proposed modification, the Secretary of State is required to consult the holder of any licence being modified. This will help to ensure that relevant bodies are engaged on proposed modifications. To ensure sufficient scrutiny of proposed modifications, the Secretary of State must also lay a draft of the modifications before Parliament, where they will be subject to a procedure similar to the draft negative resolution procedures used for statutory instruments.

I turn to Amendments 21, 20, and 16. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, again for their amendments in Committee. Having considered those amendments, the Government are introducing a new clause on the hydrogen levy provisions, which I hope noble Lords will find satisfying. The new clause will enable revenue support regulations to make provisions for amounts to be paid to levied market participants by a hydrogen production counterparty or hydrogen levy administrator. This includes the pass through of payments received by a hydrogen production counterparty from hydrogen producers under revenue support contracts, such as payments made to the counterparty when the market price of hydrogen is higher than the strike price. This will help to ensure that regulations can make provisions for fair and efficient payments and reconciliation arrangements.

Subsection (3) of this new clause was prompted specifically by consideration of Amendment 62 from the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, in Committee. This provision enables the Secretary of State to make regulations requiring that customers of levied market participants benefit in accordance with these regulations from payments made to levied market participants by a hydrogen production counterparty or levy administrator. I beg to move.

My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 17. I will not take up much of the House’s time, because this is just about consistency.

The Government have defined a UK low-carbon hydrogen standard, which was updated in July this year, and it includes guidance and a calculator tool for hydrogen producers to use for greenhouse gas emissions reporting and sustainability criteria. It has been designed to demonstrate that low-carbon hydrogen production methods can meet a greenhouse gas emissions test and threshold, and this amendment would require the regulations to have regard to that standard when assessing the eligibility of low-carbon hydrogen production. Using the low-carbon hydrogen standard will ensure that there is consistency for the industry and its users, and will provide them with the degree of certainty that they are looking for when developing their projects.

My Lords, I added my name to Amendment 18 in respect of who should be paying a hydrogen levy. I do not consider that hydrogen is going to play a large role in our broader economy. I think it will have specialised uses: it will be used where it is already used, in the production of fertilisers and in certain chemical processes, and it may well be used as a back-up fuel in extremis when we have no other forms of storage. I say that because it is going to be a relatively expensive commodity, it is not going to be easy to handle and it is not necessarily going to be very safe. For those reasons, I think we are overexcited about hydrogen in general, and the Bill is overexcited about hydrogen—and probably, as a result, about carbon capture and storage, which will also be quite expensive.

The reason I lent my name to this amendment is that it seems particularly egregious to expect electricity billpayers to be picking up the price of this expensive commodity, which is not very safe and quite unlikely to be very useful. Therefore, I think it is really important that the Government listen, and listen to everyone outside this Chamber who is saying that we should not be loading any more costs on to electricity consumers but should be doing the opposite. I am looking forward to the Government taking on this issue to redress the balance of how we are tackling climate change and who is paying. At the moment, the electricity consumer is paying nearly everything and the gas consumer almost nothing.

It is time that we started to recognise the value of electricity. It is hugely efficient, and it can be indigenously produced from our nuclear and homegrown renewables and offshore wind. It is that which we should be supporting, not necessarily this rather expensive alternative. Gas, oil and coal companies will continue to promote it, but it is not for the electricity billpayer to pick up the tab. So I fully support Amendment 18.

I would love to hear a little more from the Minister on new subsection (3) inserted by Amendment 20 in relation to the regulations. It is my understanding that that will enable payments to be made back to consumers, but could those regulations also decide not to impose any hydrogen levies on electricity consumers? I would like to understand the extent to which those regulations could solve this problem.

I make reference to the Minister’s amendments, particularly the issue he highlighted of including the new subsection that would allow regulations to make provisions requiring that energy consumers benefit. I want to ask just one question on that. While we welcome that provision, there is a concern. If we are allowing regulations to make this provision, what guarantee is there that they will actually be used? Are the Government committing to using them, if they use Clause 66 powers?

I support all of my noble friend Lady Liddell’s comments on her amendment. The main amendment for me is that just referenced by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. We spent a significant amount of time talking about this area in Committee, so I will not go through all the detail. However, as the noble Baroness mentioned, in the circumstances we are in, with the extra pressure on the cost of living from energy bills, why are we looking at a situation where we could be asking householders to pay more money? I acknowledge that there will be further consultation but I hope that, as well as it being done thoroughly, its conclusions will lead to the spirit of our amendment. As shown in our amendments, we believe that the Secretary of State could put a levy on gas shippers but not on gas and electricity suppliers, thus preventing responsibility for the levies falling on households.

We need to reflect on the spirit of the Bill—the whole idea is that, while reforming energy systems, we do everything we can to protect consumers and their ability to pay their bills. Every possible action should be taken to minimise the impact on consumers, focusing always on affordability. I am disappointed that the Minister has not gone further on this point. Unless he indicates a willingness to do so, due to the strong feelings surrounding the protection of consumers from inflated bills, I am minded to test the opinion of the House.

My Lords, I will start by addressing Amendments 18 and 19, which the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, have retabled from Committee. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, for her contribution. She requested further detail; I will provide clarification in writing, if that is okay with her.

These amendments seek to ensure that funding for the hydrogen production business model can be provided through the Consolidated Fund. They also seek to restrict where a levy may be placed, removing the option for levying energy suppliers and requiring that a levy could be placed only on gas shippers. They are intended, I assume, to take responsibility for levies away from households.

The powers in the Bill already enable Exchequer funding of the hydrogen production business model, which will initially be Exchequer-funded. It is therefore unnecessary to include additional provisions that enable the business model to be funded through the Exchequer.

The proposal in these amendments to require that the levy could be placed only on gas shippers will limit options for the levy design, with possible implications for its costs and ultimate impact on consumers. There is no such thing as a free lunch. A gas shipper levy would be a completely novel scheme, with administration and set-up costs that could be considerably higher than those required to implement a supplier levy; this is well understood.

The Government have set out their intention not to levy gas shippers in the near term. Levies on energy suppliers have been used in the past to support the deployment of low-carbon electricity and increase the proportion of green gas in the gas grid. These levies are well understood by the private sector. By taking a similar approach with the hydrogen levy, we can help provide investors with the confidence they need to invest in low-carbon hydrogen production projects and support the delivery of our 10-gigawatt production capacity ambition.

By seeking to ensure that the levy could be placed only on gas shippers, these amendments appear to try to protect energy consumers from the costs of a levy. However, as I outlined when they were tabled previously, we anticipate that any costs associated with a levy on gas shippers would ultimately be passed on to energy consumers in a very similar way to levies on energy suppliers. As I say, there is no such thing as a free lunch. It is the opinion of all the policy analysts that it is unlikely that the amendments would have their intended effect.

I recognise the concerns about consumer energy bills, which the Government take extremely seriously. We have given an enormous amount of financial support throughout the winter to try to keep bills as low as possible and are committed to helping ensure that the costs of the UK’s energy transition are fair and affordable for all consumers. The Government continue to focus on providing robust support for energy consumers, including through the energy price guarantee, the energy bills support scheme, the energy bills relief scheme and the energy bills discount scheme. Alongside providing support for households and businesses, the Government are working to help ensure that energy bills remain affordable in the long term. Our exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of our plan to build a strong, homegrown low-carbon energy sector—something this levy is directly aimed at achieving. I am disappointed that the Opposition seem to want to undermine that aim.

I remind noble Lords that the provisions in this Bill will not immediately introduce the levy and that any decision to do so will take into account all relevant considerations, including affordability of energy bills.

Finally, I turn to Amendment 17 from the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, and the contributions from the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. I again reassure noble Lords that the Government recognise the need for robust standards on producing low-carbon hydrogen to support the UK’s net-zero targets. The intention of the definition in Clause 61(8) is to ensure that support under hydrogen production revenue support contracts may be provided only in respect of low-carbon hydrogen production which contributes to our decarbonisation ambition.

Clause 61(3) places a duty on the Secretary of State to make provision in regulations for determining the meaning of “eligible” in relation to a low-carbon hydrogen producer. The Government plan to consult on our approach to these regulations shortly; I would very much welcome the contribution of the noble Baroness, alongside those of industry leaders.

The low-carbon hydrogen standard is set out in guidance. We expect it to be updated over time to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and reflects our growing understanding of how new technologies work in practice, including how hydrogen production interacts with the broader energy system. We therefore do not consider it to be the best approach to make express reference to that guidance in primary legislation.

With a focus on investor confidence, our current approach means that the primary legislation provides a clear direction of travel, regulations—which Parliament will of course have the opportunity to scrutinise—and a significant degree of certainty about eligibility, which will provide prospective investors and developers the clarity and transparency they need to bring projects forward. The approach currently set out in the Bill makes the best use of the primary legislation, regulations for setting eligibility, and guidance which can be more responsive to the evolving nature of the low-carbon hydrogen standard.

To respond to the question that the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, asked me: these regulations are purely about passing on the benefit of payments made to levied market participants and to their customers, not about who is to be levied or exemptions. Decisions regarding the detailed levy design, including in relation to exemptions, will of course be made in due course.

Amendment 16 agreed.

Clause 61: Designation of hydrogen production counterparty

Amendment 17 not moved.

Clause 66: Obligations of relevant market participants

Amendment 18

Moved by

18: Clause 66, page 57, line 25, leave out “relevant market participants (see subsection (8))” and insert “the Consolidated Fund or gas shippers”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment means the Secretary of State may put a levy on gas shippers, but may not put it on gas or electricity suppliers, thus taking responsibility for levies away from households.

My Lords, on behalf of consumers I express my disappointment in the Minister’s response, and I would like to test the opinion of the House.

Amendment 19 not moved.

Amendment 20

Moved by

20: After Clause 66, insert the following new Clause—

“Payments to relevant market participants(1) Revenue support regulations may make provision about amounts which must be paid—(a) by a hydrogen levy administrator to relevant market participants, or(b) by a hydrogen production counterparty—(i) to relevant market participants, or(ii) to a hydrogen levy administrator for the purpose of enabling payments to be made to relevant market participants.(2) Regulations by virtue of subsection (1) may make provision—(a) for a hydrogen levy administrator to calculate or determine, in accordance with such criteria as may be provided for by or under the regulations, amounts which are owed by—(i) the hydrogen levy administrator, or(ii) a hydrogen production counterparty;(b) for a hydrogen production counterparty to calculate or determine, in accordance with such criteria as may be provided for by or under the regulations, amounts which are owed by—(i) the hydrogen production counterparty, or(ii) a hydrogen levy administrator;(c) for the issuing of notices by a hydrogen levy administrator to require the payment by a hydrogen production counterparty of amounts calculated or determined by the hydrogen levy administrator in accordance with paragraph (a)(ii);(d) for the issuing of notices by a hydrogen production counterparty to require the payment by a hydrogen levy administrator of amounts calculated or determined by the hydrogen production counterparty in accordance with paragraph (b)(ii); (e) for the provision of copies of notices such as are mentioned in paragraph (c) or (d) to persons specified in the regulations, or the publication of such notices.(3) Revenue support regulations may make provision imposing on a relevant market participant who receives a payment from a hydrogen levy administrator or a hydrogen production counterparty a requirement to secure that customers of the relevant market participant receive, by a time specified in the regulations, such benefit from the payment as may be specified in or determined in accordance with the regulations.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment enables regulations to require payments to be made to levy payers and to require benefits from such payments to be passed on to customers of levy payers. Lord Callanan’s amendments at page 52, line 2 and page 59, line 23 are consequential on this amendment.

Amendment 20 agreed.

Clause 67: Functions of hydrogen levy administrator

Amendment 21

Moved by

21: Clause 67, page 59, line 23, after “(9)” insert “or (Payments to relevant market participants) (2) or (3)”

Member's explanatory statement

See the explanatory statement for new Clause (Payments to relevant market participants).

Amendment 21 agreed.

Amendment 22

Moved by

22: Clause 67, page 59, line 29, at end insert—

“(4A) Provision made by virtue of subsection (3)(d) for the imposition of a financial penalty must include provision for a right of appeal against the imposition of the penalty.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment requires regulations under Clause 67(3)(d) (functions of hydrogen levy administrator) that make provision for the imposition of financial penalties to include provision for a right of appeal.

My Lords, I rise to speak to the amendments standing in the name of my noble friend, which address recommendations made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee on the Energy Bill. We are grateful to the committee for its detailed scrutiny of the provisions in the Bill. The committee provided a range of comments and recommendations which the Government have carefully considered. The Minister was pleased to confirm in his response to the committee that the Government have accepted nine recommendations. He also provided further clarification, as requested, in response to the majority of the committee’s other comments. These amendments address the recommendations the Government have accepted, and I hope they will be welcomed by noble Lords.

Turning first to Amendments 22, 34, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 55, 64, 76, 77, 92, 93, 99 to 103, 105 and 106, the committee highlighted that certain clauses of the Bill confer powers to make provision for the imposition of civil penalties without mandating a requirement for the regulations to provide for a right of appeal. While it was absolutely the Government’s intention that regulations under such clauses would provide for a right to appeal, we have taken on board the committee’s comments.

These amendments clarify this point and ensure that regulations made under these clauses, which make provision for a civil or financial penalty, must also include provision for a right of appeal to a court or tribunal against the imposition of such a penalty. The committee’s recommendations referred to three specific instances in the Bill. To ensure consistency across the Bill, we have tabled similar amendments to a number of other clauses which make provision for a civil or financial penalty.

Amendments 73, 80 to 90, 96, 107 to 123 and 139 to 142 address the committee’s recommendations relating to changing the procedure to which regulations made under powers in the Bill are subject. The Government agree with the committee on the importance of parliamentary scrutiny. As such, we have tabled amendments to address the committee’s recommendations relating to changing the parliamentary procedure. These amendments will facilitate detailed scrutiny of the powers, when used.

Amendment 91 responds to the committee’s recommendation regarding subsections (3) and (4) of Clause 180, on heat network zoning. The committee had concerns that these provisions would confer powers allowing non-statutory documents to make requirements in relation to the methodology for identifying areas as potential heat network zones. We welcome the committee’s comments, and this amendment will ensure that any non-statutory documents do not have legislative effect. The amendment omits from Clause 180 subsection (3), which provides for the heat network zones authority to publish documents elaborating on one or more aspects of the zoning methodology. It also omits from the same clause subsection (4), which provides that regulations may require the authority and zone co-ordinators to comply with any requirements set out in these documents.

I reiterate my thanks to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee for its engagement and reports on the Bill, and I hope its members will be pleased with the amendments discussed today. I beg to move Amendment 22.

My Lords, on behalf of the committee, I thank the Government for responding favourably to the report. I hope this is something that other departments will follow through in their subsequent considerations.

My Lords, as we have heard, these amendments relate to ensuring that regulations which make provision for a civil penalty must include the provision of a right of appeal to a court or tribunal against the imposition of such a penalty in a number of instances in the Bill, as recommended by the DPRRC. It is good news that the Government have accepted these recommendations. These amendments have been tabled to make changes to the procedure of regulations under several powers, as recommended by the committee, and to clarify that non-statutory documents do not have legislative effect in relation to heat network zoning methodology. We support these amendments.

Amendment 22 agreed.

Clause 68: Power to appoint allocation bodies

Amendments 23 and 24

Moved by

23: Clause 68, page 60, line 7, at end insert—

“(1A) The power under each paragraph of subsection (1) may be exercised so that more than one appointment has effect under that paragraph at the same time.”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment makes it clear that more than one appointment of a hydrogen production allocation body or carbon capture allocation body may have effect at the same time.

24: Clause 68, page 60, line 22, after “about” insert “the purposes for which,”

Member's explanatory statement

This amendment is about regulations that treat a person whose appointment as an allocation body has ceased as if they were still so appointed, and enables such regulations to specify for what purposes the body is to be so treated.

Amendments 23 and 24 agreed.

Amendment 25

Moved by

25: After Clause 74, insert the following new Clause—

“Licence conditions regarding functions of certain allocation bodies(1) In section 7B of the Gas Act 1986, after subsection (5) insert—“(5ZA) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (a) of subsection (4), conditions for or in connection with the purpose set out in subsection (5ZB) may be included in a licence under section 7AA by virtue of that paragraph.(5ZB) The purpose is to facilitate or ensure the effective performance (whether in relation to Northern Ireland or any other part of the United Kingdom), at relevant times, of functions of a hydrogen production allocation body under Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Energy Act 2023.(5ZC) In subsection (5ZB) “relevant times” means times when the hydrogen production allocation body holds a licence under section 7AA.”(2) Where—(a) the GEMA proposes by a modification under section 23 of the Gas Act 1986 of a licence under section 7AA of that Act to add, remove or alter a condition such as is mentioned in section 7B(5ZA) of that Act, and(b) that condition relates to functions of a hydrogen production allocation body that are exercisable in relation to Northern Ireland,section 23 of that Act has effect as if the persons listed in subsection (4)(b) of that section included the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.”Member's explanatory statement

This new Clause makes it clear that licences under section 7AA of the Gas Act 1986 may include certain conditions relating to functions of certain bodies appointed under Part 2 of the Bill, and makes related provision about proposed licence modifications.

Amendment 25 agreed.

Clause 77: Information and advice

Amendment 26

Moved by

26: Clause 77, page 66, line 34, at end insert—

“(ca) for a revenue support counterparty to require a person specified, or of a description specified, in the regulations to provide information to it;”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment enables regulations to provide for a revenue support counterparty to require a person or description of persons to provide information to it.

Amendment 26 agreed.

Clause 78: Enforcement

Amendment 27

Moved by

27: Clause 78, page 67, line 41, at end insert—

“(3) Revenue support regulations may make provision for special allocation body requirements (or a subset of such requirements) to be enforceable by the GEMA as if they were relevant requirements within the meaning of sections 28 to 30O of the Gas Act 1986.(4) In this section “special allocation body requirements” means requirements imposed by or under revenue support regulations or regulations under section 68 on a hydrogen production allocation body, so far as the requirements relate to times when the body holds a licence under section 7AA of the Gas Act 1986 (including requirements in respect of functions of the body that relate to Northern Ireland).”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment provides for requirements imposed on a hydrogen production allocation body which holds a gas system planner licence to be able to be enforced by the application of provisions of the Gas Act 1986.

Amendment 27 agreed.

Clause 82: Shadow directors, etc

Amendments 28 and 29

Moved by

28: Clause 82, page 71, line 8, at end insert—

“(ba) a person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the members of a Chapter 1 entity which is a limited liability partnership are accustomed to act;”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment ensures that the Secretary of State will not, by virtue of exercising functions under Chapter 1 in relation to an entity which is a limited liability partnership, be treated (for the purposes of any relevant rule of law) as a person in accordance with whose directions etc the members of a limited liability partnership are accustomed to act.

29: Clause 82, page 71, line 16, at end insert—

“(ba) a person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the members of a revenue support counterparty which is a limited liability partnership are accustomed to act;”Member's explanatory statement

This amendment ensures that an allocation body will not, by virtue of exercising functions under Chapter 1 in relation to a revenue support counterparty which is a limited liability partnership, be treated (for the purposes of any relevant rule of law) as a person in accordance with whose directions etc the members of a limited liability partnership are accustomed to act.

Amendments 28 and 29 agreed.

Clause 83: Modifications of licences etc

Amendment 30

Moved by