Saturday, September 30, 2023

Baroness Smith debates Energy Bill

“THESE amendments are very similar to those that we brought forward in Committee, but we have taken into account the comments and concerns that the Minister expressed on that occasion. The amendments before us today seek two things. The first is the provision of an annual report to Parliament by the Secretary of State on how the ECO and the Green Deal are fairing. Secondly, they establish the purpose of both these new clauses in the Bill in terms of the Government’s objectives as stated in previous legislation.

In Committee, the Minister was understandably concerned about not imposing a new duty on installers or providers to take account of the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change. That is not unreasonable, and we took it into account before putting the amendments before your Lordships today. Therefore, these amendments have been slimmed down. They would impose no new duties on the Government other than to provide an annual report-something to which I know the Minister is sympathetic-on the goals and aims, as stated in the impact assessment on the Bill, for carbon reduction and fairness. It is a way of putting the Bill into the context of government policy.

A report by the Secretary of State to Parliament on the operation of the Green Deal would be extremely helpful. Indeed, when dealing with a point raised by noble Lords in Committee, the Minister said:

“The scheme needs to be road-tested to ensure that it works and we must keep a watchful eye on it. Getting these things precisely ordered is a very good thing for the Bill”.

He will know of the criticisms that were made just yesterday of the Minister in the other place, Greg Barker, when he spoke at the Ecobuild conference in London. Concerns were raised by the UK Green Building Council, and the president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said that there was not enough certainty or incentives for the industry, and that, although they supported the Government’s package of measures as being incredibly ambitious, they were concerned that it would not achieve the objectives. Like the Government, we want this Bill to achieve the objectives that have been set. They are ambitious, and some amendments have been tabled to help the Minister to achieve those objectives, to which we know he is committed.

Probably the most helpful parts of the amendments before us today relate to the annual report. The Secretary of State will have the opportunity to come back to Parliament, having looked at how the Green Deal is fairing. In the light of the commitments that the Minister made in Committee, there will be an opportunity for the Green Deal to be tweaked or changed and to see whether more can be done to create incentives. I beg to move.


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