The Committee consisted of the following Members:
Chair: Mrs Maria Miller
Abrahams, Debbie (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab)
† Aiken, Nickie (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con)
† Baynes, Simon (Clwyd South) (Con)
† Brown, Alan (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)
† Cruddas, Jon (Dagenham and Rainham) (Lab)
Eagle, Dame Angela (Wallasey) (Lab)
† Everitt, Ben (Milton Keynes North) (Con)
† Fletcher, Colleen (Coventry North East) (Lab)
† Fletcher, Mark (Bolsover) (Con)
† Howell, Paul (Sedgefield) (Con)
† Jones, Darren (Bristol North West) (Lab)
† Mackrory, Cherilyn (Truro and Falmouth) (Con)
† Mann, Scott (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty’s Treasury)
† Sambrook, Gary (Birmingham, Northfield) (Con)
† Solloway, Amanda (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
† Whitehead, Dr Alan (Southampton, Test) (Lab)
† Williams, Craig (Montgomeryshire) (Con)
Yohanna Sallberg, Committee Clerk
† attended the Committee
Third Delegated Legislation Committee
Wednesday 8 September 2021
[Mrs Maria Miller in the Chair]
Draft Ecodesign for Energy-related Products and Energy Information (Lighting Products) Regulations 2021
Colleagues, before we begin, anyone who wishes to remove their jacket may follow my lead and do so. I encourage Members to observe social distancing where possible, given the situation we still find ourselves in. Mr Speaker encourages Members to wear masks in Committee where possible when they are not speaking. I thank officials for sitting in the Gallery, which is very helpful to keep things as a safe as we can. Hansard colleagues will be grateful to speakers for sending their speaking notes to them.
I beg to move,
That the Committee has considered the draft Ecodesign for Energy-related Products and Energy Information (Lighting Products) Regulations 2021.
With this it will be convenient to consider the draft Ecodesign for Energy-related Products and Energy Information (Amendment) Regulations 2021.
It is a great pleasure to serve with you in the Chair, Mrs Miller. The draft Ecodesign for Energy-related Products and Energy Information (Lighting Products) Regulations 2021—the lighting products regulations—were laid before the House on 1 July 2021, and the draft Ecodesign for Energy-related Products and Energy Information (Amendment) Regulations 2021—the amending regulations—were laid before the House on 5 July 2021.
I will first provide an overview of ecodesign and energy labelling and what the policies try to achieve. Ecodesign policies regulate products that consume energy when in use, such as light bulbs and televisions, by setting minimum energy performance standards to increase energy efficiency. More recently, ecodesign policies have included resource efficiency measures that seek to make products more repairable and recyclable, thereby reducing the use of material resources. In effect, ecodesign policies make the products we use in our homes and businesses more environmentally friendly and support long-term product innovation.
Energy labelling policies are intended to make clear and consistent information about a product’s energy usage readily available to consumers at the point of sale, to help them to make more informed purchase decisions. In effect, energy labelling encourages the uptake of more energy efficient products.
Taken together, the policies make an important contribution to energy use, improving environmental outcomes and cutting energy bills. It is expected that the full suite of ecodesign and energy labelling policies in force in Great Britain will save consumers £75 on their energy bills and 8 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2021.
The lighting products regulations will raise the minimum energy efficiency of lighting products on the market in Great Britain. That will phase out the least energy efficient lighting products—in other words, the costliest and more environmentally damaging products to run. The lighting products regulations will replace the existing energy label for light sources and rescale labels, moving from the A++ to E scale to a simpler A to G scale, making it easier for consumers to identify the most energy efficient lighting products. New innovations in lighting technology have led to lighting products becoming more energy efficient than they were a few years ago, making it necessary to rescale energy labels to show the difference in efficiency more clearly for two products on the market today.
By setting ambitious boundaries for the A to G classes on the energy label, the policy will spur the innovation and design of lighting products, as manufacturers compete to achieve the highest energy efficient ratings. In addition to rescaling the energy label for lighting products, the Union flag, rather than the European Union flag, must now be displayed on the label for products on the GB market.
The lighting products regulations reflect the requirements of the two EU regulations that the UK supported as a member state, which began to apply in Northern Ireland in accordance with the Northern Ireland protocol. By introducing these more ambitious, environmentally friendly ecodesign and energy labelling requirements, we will ensure we maintain high product standards in Great Britain and push the market to achieve even greater carbon savings.
The measures introduced by the lighting products regulations will continue carbon savings of approximately 1.8 megatonnes in the UK by 2030, which increases to 2.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050. On top of that, the resultant reduction in energy use will cut pounds from household and business energy bills.
Lastly, introducing these requirements in Great Britain will ensure a broadly common set of product standards with Northern Ireland, thus avoiding technical barriers to trade across the Irish sea between GB and the EU. A public consultation was conducted between November 2020 and January 2021, and feedback on the consultation proposals showed strong support for implementing these new requirements in Great Britain.
The amending regulations make amendments to retained EU ecodesign and energy labelling law that is in force in Great Britain. The EU has recently made the same amendments to its equivalent legislation, which must be complied with in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol. Therefore, this statutory instrument ensures that we avoid technical discrepancies with the equivalent legislation in force in the EU and Northern Ireland.
The amendments this instrument makes are to servers and data storage products with respect to ecodesign, and electronic displays, household refrigeration, dishwashers, washing machines and washer-dryers with respect to energy labels. The amendments correct technical errors and improve accuracy, with the aim of facilitating the understanding of and compliance with the requirements of product manufacturers.
Further, as with the lighting regulations, implementing these regulations in Great Britain avoids technical barriers to trade between GB and Northern Ireland and GB and the EU, as they will be a broadly common set of standards. A consultation was conducted between March and April 2021 with product manufacturers who will be impacted by the legislation. Respondents were supportive of implementing the new requirements in Great Britain.
Introducing the lighting products regulations and the amending regulations is aligned with the Government’s ambitions to achieve our carbon budget and net zero target. The measures will reduce the energy use and environmental impact of the products we buy. Further, both SIs avoid technical barriers to trade and ensure an effective regulatory environment for business, while providing greener choices to consumers and businesses. I commend these two statutory instruments to the Committee.
It is a pleasure to serve under the chairmanship of my near neighbour. You will be pleased to know, Mrs Miller, that the Opposition do not intend to pit our mighty forces against the Government in a vote this morning, because we consider the two SIs to be very uncontroversial.
These measures are an obvious thing to do to ensure that the labelling processes for ecodesign and energy efficiency, which I have long supported, remain an excellent way of ensuring that people know what they are getting in terms of the energy efficiency of the products they are purchasing. Indeed, over time that drives changes in consumer choices and hence manufacturing arrangements for the energy efficiency of products. We have seen that in operation already with the emergence on the market of products that seek to get the highest energy rating on the scale in their marketing.
We are all together on the desirability of ensuring that, post the UK’s exit from the EU, those labelling arrangements are maintained in the best possible order for the future, and that is essentially what these SIs are about as far as lighting is concerned.
The Minister said that, for ease of both transition and continuing reputational arrangements as far as labelling is concerned, the closest alignment with EU regulations and arrangements would be achieved. I think that is right, in terms of the interaction of products between EU countries and the UK. I assume that by that, the Minister means that should there be future changes in the labelling arrangements within the EU, the UK will seek to ensure that those are mirrored, if not now, then for the future.
However, I am not sure whether one of the changes that has been made to the regulations applies to the UK alone or is mirrored by changes in EU regulations. That is the change—on lighting—from the A to E scale that we are familiar with to a simpler A to G scale. Common sense suggests that that is necessary given that, as a result of the substantial improvements in energy efficiency in lighting and other electrical products, the scaling as it stands has tended to bunch towards the A++, A+ end of the scale, so there is a danger of the scales becoming incoherent for the public. Moving to a simpler A to G scale is therefore the right thing to do. However, I do not know whether that has happened in the EU as well, and whether, in Northern Ireland, scales might differ on products that are EU-certified, as opposed to those with a UK label.
In most of the UK that is not an issue, inasmuch as such products will all be labelled appropriately for the UK market, but it may not be the case in the interaction between Northern Ireland the rest of the UK. Can the Minister tell us whether those changes in scaling mirror the EU arrangements, or whether they apply to the UK only?
The change in scale, while logical, common-sensical and important, is almost totally unknown to the public. Such changes have been made in other product areas. I have personal experience of turning up to, as it were, rate a dishwasher, only to find that the products had the new A to G scale labelling on them, which made what had previously looked very energy efficient look very energy inefficient—until one understood that products labelled D or E, which looked at first sight energy inefficient, were the equivalent of, say, A+ under the previous arrangements. Will the Minister reflect on the possible need for publicity and some public-facing general explanation, so that we all know why these changes in lettering have been made and how important they are to get the system working properly for the future?
I have no further comments to make about the detail of the statutory instrument, which, I have to say to hon. Members, is some of the most tedious stuff I have ever read—[Laughter.]—from which they may deduce that I did actually read it. I look forward to further enlightenment from the Minister.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Miller. It seemed appropriate that the shadow Minister mentioned “tedious” as I stood up to speak.
In the Minister’s opening remarks, she spoke about products being reusable and recyclable, and I wonder how much that is applicable to these regulations. They copy EU regulations, and the explanatory notes make it clear that because of the Northern Ireland protocol, we do not want any differentiation between Great Britain and Northern Ireland as that would mean differentiation within the UK. Does that mean that, in this magnificent, post-Brexit world, the UK Government will always mirror EU regulations to avoid that differentiation?
How confident is the Minister about the carbon savings and the savings for consumers and businesses that are detailed in the explanatory memorandum? Is there anything that can be done to go further, because carbon savings are not saving money although they are clearly a good thing as we project through to net zero? Was a consultant employed to design the new labels that will effectively replace the EU flag with the Union flag? Was a consultant needed to do that and how much did that cost?
I thank both hon. Members for their valuable contributions. As I have said before, the Government are committed to delivering their carbon budget and net zero target. The lighting products regulations will help us to achieve those by setting higher product standards, leading to 1.8 megatonnes of carbon savings in the UK by 2030, which will increase to 2.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050. The amending regulations will help to achieve that by safeguarding the carbon savings that will be secured from our retained EU law.
In response to specific questions about mirroring the EU, I can confirm that we are doing that, and the Government intend to uphold common high product standards where possible and appropriate. The framework is part of the 10-point plan that we are doing. The EU rescaled their labels for lighting products.
In conclusion, I will underline the main purposes of the lighting products regulations and the amending regulations. The lighting products regulations will raise the minimum energy efficiency of the range of lighting products sold in Great Britain and reform energy labels for lighting products by rescaling the energy classes and introducing a scale from A to G. As the hon. Member for Southampton, Test said, that will be a lot simpler. The measures will result in carbon and energy bill savings for consumers and businesses.
The amending regulations will facilitate compliance with and understanding of the ecodesign and energy labelling requirements for a range of products by improving accuracy and correcting technical errors. That will ensure that the expected carbon savings from the regulations are realised. Both SIs will help to avoid technical barriers to trade while also bringing significant benefits to consumers, in the form of reduced energy bills, and to the environment via lower emissions.
I commend the regulations to the Committee.
Question put and agreed to.
DRAFT ECODESIGN FOR ENERGY-RELATED PRODUCTS AND ENERGY INFORMATION (AMENDMENT) REGULATIONS 2021
That the Committee has considered the draft Ecodesign for Energy-related Products and Energy Information (Amendment) Regulations 2021.—(Scott Mann.)