Examination of Witnesses (Questions 320-327)|
TUESDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2001
320. It was the Treasury that promoted it and
you then had to pick up the pieces, is that correct?
(Mr Wilson) Pejorative
321. It may well be but I think that there are
a number of people who question the validity of it. Now that everything
is up for grabs under a PIU inquiry surely industrial competitiveness
and the CCL should be a consideration, the environment and the
CCL should be a consideration and whether a carbon tax might be
a more satisfactory way of meeting the environmental objectives
should be a consideration.
(Mr Wilson) All I can say is the PIU would not be
precluded from commenting on that.
322. Will you be contributing to such a discussion?
Will you be telling us what your thoughts might be on the matter?
(Mr Wilson) No. The advisory group to the PIU team,
which I chair, is meeting on Thursday to consider a draft report.
I think it would be premature to comment on anything which is
going to be in the PIU Report.
323. Are you satisfied you are going to have
enough information to address that issue that I have just raised
given that it has only been in place for six months?
(Mr Wilson) I think anything to do with energy with
fiscal policy is ultimately the responsibility of the Treasury
but equally obviously on something as significant as the Climate
Change Levy there is constant monitoring of its actual effect.
(Mr Eppel) On the Climate Change Levy and agreements,
the Climate Change agreements are the responsibility of DEFRA
and in that context for the energy intensive sectorsand
there are 39 sectors with a total of 43 agreements covering some
13,000 facilities, so there is quite a significant bulk of energy
intensive industries connected to these nowwhat we have
seen is the impetus provided by the Climate Change Levy has been
a very real one for those industries to look at the potential
for energy efficiency. I think that has been very encouraging.
Whether the total energy efficiency potential is realised through
that one could discuss but certainly that has been a real spur
for those industries to look at potential for energy efficiency
including combined heat and power.
324. We wanted to ask you about fuel poverty
but we are conscious that the strategy is being produced tomorrow
so I think it might be more appropriate if we were to, maybe,
send you some written questions on that once it is published if
we think there are any areas we need to cover on that.
(Mr Wilson) Yes.
325. Can I just ask one last point. When we
had some people here from the nuclear industry last week, they
seemed to make the point that nuclear at the moment is a realistic
option, it will require some kind of favourable treatment in the
way that renewables gets support, whether it is by a fiscal instrument
or by an obligation or whatever. Is that part of your consideration
to look at obligations? The coal industry have also promoted that
as an idea as well.
(Mr Wilson) Again, Chairman, I do not want to be unhelpful
but the future of nuclear power is obviously a big part of the
PIU study. I am not going to say anything which pre-empts their
recommendations. Having said that, the PIU Report is to Government
rather than of Government and any measures which the PIU recommends
will be assessed through the normal policy making processes. I
think it is worth recalling that there has never been a nuclear
moratorium in this country, it is simply that companies have not
chosen in the past 20 years to bring forward plans for new nuclear
power stations. The question of whether new nuclear power stations
are built or whether the life of existing ones are extended will
be conditioned by the context which Government creates and that
will in turn, I think, be influenced by the PIU Report. Obviously
the nuclear industry, like everyone else just now, is lobbying,
which it is perfectly entitled to do, and it has made its position
clear in submissions to the PIU Report but exactly how much of
that case has been accepted by the PIU team will become apparent
326. Minister, just a short one. You said that
the report is to the Government from the PIU. Can you say what
is going to happen to the report once it is submitted to the Government?
What will happen to that report then?
(Mr Wilson) The exact sequence of events has not been
determined yet. The PIU is obviously part of the Cabinet Office
and the report is to the Prime Minister. The intention is still
that the report will go to the Prime Minister by the end of the
year. At some stage the report will be published and then the
subject, I am sure, will stimulate very intensive debate. Then
it will be up to Government across Departments and centrally to
decide what to do on the basis of the PIU Report and what parts
of it to accept and give priority to.
327. The point the Chairman mentioned about
the Climate Change Levy and all those, we do not know, everything
is in the air, we may have to wait a further long time for action
(Mr Wilson) You certainly will not have to wait a
further long time for the PIU Report, the whole thing has been
done within six months which has been a very intensive period
of activity. I have no doubt that in some areas the PIU team will
and should say that these are areas which need further work. You
do not compile the definitive volume on British energy policy
in six months so where further work is needed then let us have
further work. I would also hope that there are pointers in it
which will lead to early action.
Chairman: Thank you very much. If there is anything
else we will write to you.