Home Energy Conservation Bill

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Amendment proposed to the proposed amendment: (a), in line 4, at end insert—

    '( ) Where the report includes any energy efficiency target, however expressed, and a date or a time-scale set by the authority for meeting any such energy efficiency target, the requirement in subsection (1) to implement the measures in the report is a requirement to implement those measures by that date or within the time-scale.'.—[Mr. Alan Simpson.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 12, Noes 2.

Division No. 1]

Baron, Mr. John Best, Mr. Harold Cable, Dr. Vincent Chapman, Sir Sydney Doughty, Sue Drew, Mr. David
Edwards, Mr. Huw Griffiths, Jane Lepper, Mr. David Sayeed, Mr. Jonathan Simpson, Mr. Alan Turner, Dr. Desmond

Meacher, Mr. Michael
Rooney, Mr. Terry

Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendment (a) agreed to.

Amendment No. 28, as amended, agreed to.

Mr. Meacher: I beg to move amendment No. 29, in page 1, line 18, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

    '( ) In section 35(2) of the Housing Act 1996 (c. 52.) (duty to provide information as to standards of performance in connection with housing)—

    (a) after ''shall'' there is inserted ''(a)'',

    (b) at end there is inserted—

    (b) so far as the information referred to in paragraph (a) relates to the level of performance achieved by him in connection with the energy efficiency of residential accommodation within the area of a local housing authority, provide the information also to that authority in such form as may be so specified.

    In paragraph (b), ''energy efficiency'' and ''residential accommodation'' have the same meanings as in the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995.'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments No. 55, in page 1, line 18, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

    '(2) For the purpose of enabling an energy conservation authority to discharge its functions pursuant to subsection (1) (a) above the appropriate authority shall, after consultation with such energy conservation authorities, representatives of registered social landlords, utility companies and other persons as the authority considers appropriate make regulations requiring:

    (a) utility companies to report annually to a person prescribed in the regulations;

    (b) registered social landlords, manager of government funded energy efficiency schemes and the Energy Saving Trust to report annually to energy conservation authorities;

    in a format prescribed in the regulations on improvements in energy efficiency that result from measures taken by them (and different formats may be prescribed for different cases) provided that in the case of utility companies the regulations:

    (i) shall not require any company to report to any energy conservation authority; and

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    (ii) shall not involve any company in any significant expense over and above that agreed under the Energy Efficiency Commitment; and

    (iii) shall require that any information so provided by any utility company need be provided only on the basis of totals per postcode and for the avoidance of doubt shall not identify any particular address; and

    (iv) shall be in a format to be agreed between the person prescribed and the utility company prescribed in the regulations, which agreement shall not be unreasonably withheld; and

    (v) shall require the person prescribed in the regulations to report to energy conservation authorities; and

    (vi) shall require that any information so provided to an energy conservation authority shall not identify any utility company'.

No. 8, in page 2, line 1, leave out 'stipulated' and insert—


No. 9, in page 2, line 2, leave out 'them' and insert—

    'the body making the report and in the case of the Energy Saving Trust also by the utility companies (and different formats may be prescribed for different cases).'.

Mr. Meacher: The amendment would require registered social landlords to copy to the local authority such information as they provide to their regulator, the Housing Corporation, relating to the energy efficiency of their housing stock within the local authority area.

Many registered social landlords are already committed to improving the energy efficiency of their stock. In 2000–01, the Housing Corporation introduced new performance standards for energy efficiency and renovation of housing stock, which relate specifically to the average standard assessment procedure—SAP—ratings of dwellings, for all those registered social landlords with more than 250 homes. That information will be published shortly.

In addition, registered social landlords are working towards the Government's commitment to bring all social housing up to a decent standard by 2010. That encompasses energy efficiency. The corporation will replace the current SAP performance indicator with a performance measure against the decent homes target. The amendment would ensure that that information was also available to local authorities for housing stock in their areas.

We do not want to impose additional regulatory requirements on private sector organisations such as registered social landlords unless they are strictly necessary. However, we recognise the importance of energy efficiency information in assisting local authorities with their duties under the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995—to draw up energy conservation and progress reports relating to residential accommodation in their areas. Allowing local authorities to receive copies of information already provided to the Housing Corporation will not needlessly increase requirements on registered social landlords.

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Some registered social landlords working across several local authority boundaries may, in being required to disaggregate the information about their stock at local authority level, face greater difficulties. We shall do what we can, in conjunction with the Housing Corporation, to mitigate that, but we are also considering whether a more appropriate way of achieving our aim would be to require the Housing Corporation to provide local authorities with the necessary information. Depending on the outcome of our deliberations, we may table a further amendment on Report.

I hope that that meets the desire of the Bill's promoters to ensure that the information is passed from registered social landlords to the energy conservation authorities without causing unnecessary additional burdens. We agree with the objective and believe that that is the most effective means of carrying it out. I recommend the amendment to the Committee.

Dr. Turner: I shall speak briefly to my own amendment No. 55 and to amendments Nos. 8 and 9, which are small drafting amendments.

Amendment No. 55, which was drafted before the tabling of Government amendment No. 29, has exactly the same aim—to facilitate the work of local authorities in preparing their energy conservation reports by making information available from other agencies that may not be readily available now. Amendment No. 55 is longer and more explicit than amendment No. 29, but involves no difference in principle. The issue is not as substantial as the previous one, so I shall not press my amendment to the vote.

Mr. Sayeed: On a point of clarification, will the Minister confirm that the reporting system will be standardised and that the energy conservation authorities will be able to obtain the requisite information from other bodies—including registered social landlords, the utilities, Government schemes, energy saving trusts and so forth—in order to do their job?

Mr. Meacher: First, my hon. Friend is right that we all have the same objective and that amendment No. 55 was tabled before Government amendment No. 29. I hope that I have explained to his and others' satisfaction why it is a better route to achieving the same objective.

The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire spoke about utility companies. I should add that Ofgem and the Energy Saving Trust are already in discussion with gas and electricity suppliers about how to provide information on a voluntary basis. I understand that those discussions are proving positive. I appreciate the importance to energy conservation authorities of good reliable information from the utilities. If current discussions do not reach an agreement satisfactory to all parties, the Government will—

It being One o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at half-past Four o'clock.

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The following Members attended the Committee:
Benton, Mr. Joe (Chairman)
Baron, Mr.
Best, Mr.
Cable, Dr.
Chapman, Sir Sydney
Doughty, Sue
Drew, Mr.
Edwards, Mr.

Column Number: 56

Griffiths, Jane
Lepper, Mr.
Meacher, Mr.
Rooney, Mr.
Sayeed, Mr.
Simpson, Mr. Alan
Turner, Dr. Desmond

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