“Estimates indicate that the amount needed to operate a hydraulically fractured shale gas well for a decade may be equivalent to the amount needed to water a golf course for a month…and the amount lost to leaks in United Utilities’ region in north west England every hour.”

In other words, the idea that we do not have enough water in this country for fracking is an absurd exaggeration.

On seismic threats, the report states that we have “naturally occurring” seismic tremors, which infrequently reach force 5 in this country and force 4 rather more frequently. There is consensus that the maximum seismic tremor that could be caused by fracking would be less than force 3. Forces 3, 4 and 5 sound close together, but for each move from force 2 to force 3, or from force 3 to force 4, power is multiplied 32 times. We have “naturally occurring” tremors in this country, and, as Members will know, 32 times 32 is just over 1,000, so those tremors are 1,000 times larger than the largest seismic tremor likely to be triggered by fracking.

In truth, shale gas represents a tremendous opportunity for this country if it exists in the quantities that we hope it does and it is economic to extract—we do not know that, and will not know until we have tried. Either shale gas will bring down the price of gas in this country, or if the price remains at the same level as on the continent, the profitability and tax revenues to the British taxpayer will be enormous. If successful, we will reduce either households’ energy bills or their tax bills. What is more, it will create jobs in the areas of the country that need them most, and in the areas of our economy—manufacturing and related industries—where that is most important, and it will improve the security of our supply.

I hope that we will continue, using the powers in this Bill and in other legislation, to develop this industry with proper environmental and safety controls, not throw it away because of scare stories spread by people whose ultimate objective is simply to prevent it from ever getting off the ground, even if it would cause no damage in this country, as it has not done anywhere else it has been applied.

7.20 pm

Ian Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr Lilley), who I think has many certainties where I have many doubts. If his understanding of the law of trespass is anything to go by, my doubts are well founded, and I doubt his certainties, because trespass is a civil wrong that can indeed be the subject of a civil action. Although it is impossible to prosecute people for trespass, it is a civil wrong and so does in fact exist. I am sure that his father was a wonderful man, but he was not right about trespass.

My constituents also have worries. They are worried about an application for boring in a place called Borras, just north of Wrexham. Planning permission was lodged locally, dealt with by the local authority and rejected. That decision was overridden by the planning inspector and the boring process went ahead, which has created a very febrile atmosphere locally. People are upset because a local decision has been overridden and there is genuine

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concern about the fracking process. That honest concern is based on the fact that it is indeed a novel process for us.

It does not appear to me, either from this debate or more generally over the past few months, that the Government have listened at all to what our constituents have been saying. The Government seem determined to pursue shale gas extraction whatever the consequences. I am sorry that they have not shown the same enthusiasm in their pursuit of renewable energy goals.

Wrexham has a strong culture of using renewable energy. We have a company, Sharp UK, which in 2004 commenced production of solar cells in the town, and at one stage more than 1,000 people were employed in that. Visitors to Wrexham often observe that a large number of homes in the constituency have solar cells on their roofs, which is a tremendous example of renewable energy in a local community, and that is supported by all parties locally. Unfortunately, this Government’s policy on feed-in tariffs, which contradicts the far-sighted policy introduced by the Leader of the Opposition, undermined the market. As a result, Sharp’s solar cell factory in Wrexham has closed its production line, so those 1,000 jobs have gone, as have the local jobs created in the construction industry for putting the cells on roofs. That renewable energy had an immediate and beneficial impact for our local economy and community.

People in Wrexham are much less convinced about the benefits of fracking. The Government, however, have resembled a runaway train on the issue, with their latter-day “dash for gas”. Their cavalier attitude to public concern about safety is feeding into a widely held view that they are pursing this process with scant regard for public safety.

Stephen Mosley (City of Chester) (Con): The hon. Gentleman, whose constituency neighbours mine, is speaking eloquently, but he must realise that the licences that cover both Chester and Wrexham are the same and that they were granted in 2008 by the previous Government. Did he speak so eloquently against their decision to grant those unconventional gas licences?

Ian Lucas: I am speaking about the application in my community currently, which is leading to large-scale demonstrations, which I will be pleased to take the hon. Gentleman to see if he is so interested. All I am talking about is responding to the public concerns that are being expressed to me.

I live less than a mile from the Borras site and know from speaking with neighbours and people who live locally that there is broad concern about the issue. I try to deal with these matters pragmatically and approach people in a straightforward way, and they are expressing genuine concerns to me. There is real frustration that local decisions have been overridden—a concern we heard earlier from the Government Benches—and replaced by those of the planning inspector.

The Government need to make it absolutely clear that they will not countenance fracking unless it can be shown to be a safe process. That is not the message they are sending at the moment. I understand that the Labour party will be tabling amendments to the Bill specifically to require environmental impact assessments in all cases; public recording of well-by-well extraction of frack fluid; and all sites to be monitored for methane and CO2

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leakage. Such amendments are vital if the process is to continue. They appear to me to be eminently sensible, perfectly reasonable and the type of amendments that would build public confidence in the process.

Mark Menzies: The hon. Gentleman makes a powerful point about monitoring on behalf of his constituents. Does he agree that it is important that that is done by the Environment Agency and not left to the company doing the drilling?

Ian Lucas: I entirely agree with that important suggestion.

I would also like to see a much clearer process for addressing community concerns in individual cases. For example, the Borras site is only a few hundred metres from the scene of the 1934 Gresford mining disaster, which killed 266 coal miners. Sincere, legitimate and profound local concern has been expressed about exploration in the immediate area, where the bodies of the deceased miners lie. At present there is no process for those views to be taken properly into account. Will the Minister please explain how such local concerns will be addressed by the planning and regulatory process that will be put in place for fracking?

I am also unconvinced about the local benefits that will accrue to Wrexham as a result of the process. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) that the benefits should attach not to the landowner, but to the local community. Wrexham, as an industrial town, still bears the scars of its industrial past, and not only the memories of events such as the Gresford disaster, but physical scars such as slag heaps, quarries and spoiled land. If fracking can be shown to be a safe process, then before it goes ahead I want to be sure that Wrexham and the local area will benefit. Fracking is not a sustainable energy process, and before the Bill passes into law I need to hear far more about how my community will benefit from the extraction that is taking place locally and causing a great deal of controversy.

I urge the Government to listen much more closely to the concerns about fracking being expressed up and down the country and to make it much clearer why they think it is so important that the process goes ahead. It is a non-renewable technology that can be of benefit to our community, but it is not being projected to our constituents in that way or with the intensity that it needs to be if it is to carry public support.

7.29 pm

Rebecca Harris (Castle Point) (Con): I support every part of this Bill. Like many Members, I want to focus on part 5 and talk about energy security and fracking.

As far as I am aware, there is no possibility that we have a great shale reserve under the estuarial mud of Castle Point. However, residents in my constituency have enormous experience of living very close to two major top-tier COMAH, or control of major accident hazards, sites and have a connection to the UKOP and GPSS—United Kingdom oil pipeline and Government pipeline and storage system—networks. Some hon. Members—I do not think any of them are in the Chamber today—might remember an exceptional speech given by my illustrious predecessor, Sir Bernard Braine, who talked out a previous infrastructure Bill, the British Railways Bill, in order to prevent an oil refinery from being built on Canvey Island. We have enormous experience of what it is like

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to live near critical infrastructure and to be concerned about it and campaign on it.

Energy security is rightly a key concern of this Government, but it is also vital that communities support the resulting new infrastructure, especially if they may have to live with it for many decades to come. We have talked a lot about safety, security and trust. We need two things for buy-in from local communities: first, to ensure that they benefit from the presence of the infrastructure or the extraction of the resource; and secondly, to ensure that they have complete confidence in the safety of the operation and the risk management regime that is in place. Clause 40 and the various community profit-sharing agreements cover the first requirement quite nicely for fracking activities, but it would be valuable to have such compensation schemes for all newly registered top-tier COMAH sites and infrastructure sites. My hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Charles Hendry), who is no longer in his place, spoke about the need for more gas storage, which is a pertinent thing that the Government should be looking to make sure we achieve.

Needless to say, my constituency would have benefited enormously if such a scheme had been in place many decades ago when the oil and gas tanks sprang up on Canvey, although the current owners of the sites, Calor and Oikos, have become, with a little gentle prodding from me and Councillor Ray Howard, very good neighbours that give generously to the community. They have gone to great efforts to remove tanker movements from our roads after the very cold winter of 2012 when a lot of that was going on.

If these sites are to go forward, we need, from the absolute outset, clarity about the location, about the proximity to schools and to homes that will be acceptable, and about whether tanker movements will be required. We need the Government to have a very clear safe-siting policy, as advocated by my constituent George Whatley, who is a founder member of the former People Against Methane campaign in my constituency. Whichever areas are chosen for any critical infrastructure, local communities must know what to expect from the very beginning, and must be on board with that.

It is most important that we secure confidence in the safety regime, which is the hardest thing to achieve. We have a complicated safety regime in this country. We hear that it is the best in the world. I have investigated it many times, and that definitely seems to be the case. However, it is complicated and confusing. People always fear that faceless bureaucrats or profit-hungry businesses are not telling them the whole story, and that in any regime where the operator is doing the monitoring, a tick-box exercise is occurring and there is no transparency in the system. We can talk about bringing in new regulations and higher standards, and of course we want to have absolutely the highest standards, but they mean nothing if the public do not understand them and cannot make sense of them, and there is a lack of transparency about the process.

With fracking, in particular, it is vital that people living in residential properties have confidence in what is a new and popularly controversial process, because it is going on right under their feet. During a debate in the media on fracking in Scotland, the trade body Oil & Gas UK asserted:

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“The underground activity of fracking will not be noticeable at the surface and will not impact on the enjoyment landowners have of their property.”

The first part of that statement may well be perfectly accurate, but I can certainly see that the loss of peace of mind someone may have if they are not confident in the safety of this could result in quite a considerable loss of enjoyment of their property if it is happening under their feet. It is vital that we instil confidence and do not just say that we have a great safety regime, but make people understand that and see it. Complete transparency and accessibility for the community is required.

The regulatory regime on fracking, which is administered primarily by the Health and Safety Executive in collaboration with the Environment Agency, with heavy involvement by the Department, seems to be extensive, but because a number of agencies are involved in different regulatory roles, it could hardly be called particularly transparent and easy for the public to understand. I suggest that at some point the Government consider a way of bringing in local reps or intelligent observers who can provide local confidence. We need not just men with clipboards and letters after their names, but a local rep who is totally independent, and who is not even a member of the council, because that might be interested in administering some of the planning gain from these sites.

The HSE’s 2012 guidance on fracking makes reference to “other interested parties”. I wonder whether there is the capacity for those people to attend meetings with the operators and the regular on-site inspections held by the HSE and the Environment Agency, because these have the greatest capacity to boost the transparency of safety and risk management operations. Perhaps the Minister could confirm whether there is scope for such local representatives to count as other interested parties under the regulatory document. I urge the Government to include that provision in the regulatory regimes for all significant sites in our nation’s infrastructure policy in future. Without a clear, transparent, understandable regime, no amount of officialdom telling us that we have the best regime in the world will satisfy local communities if they do not understand it.

7.35 pm

Dr Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test) (Lab): Unlike the hon. Member for Castle Point (Rebecca Harris), I do not rise to support every single part of this Bill.

Earlier in the debate, the Bill was described as a kaleidoscopic vision. I would prefer to describe it as a rag-bag. One dictionary definition of “ragbag” is “a confused assortment; a jumble”. Perhaps that is a little harsh, so I prefer an alternative definition: “a bag in which small pieces of cloth are kept for use in mending”. I am afraid that time prevents me from pulling more than a couple of pieces of cloth out of the ragbag to examine. I will therefore concentrate my remarks on just two pieces, neither of which seems to have been designed to mend anything in particular.

The first piece of cloth I want to pull out is the question of the so-called moves towards zero-carbon homes. I say “so-called” advisedly. The explanatory notes to the Bill clearly state:

“The Government is committed to introducing a zero carbon emissions standard for new dwellings in England from 2016.”

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However, the Government have now made three attempts to knock down the original version of what would have been moves towards zero-carbon homes by 2016. As hon. Members will remember, that arose from the 2006 code for sustainable homes. There were rising levels of sustainability going up to code level 6, and homes were supposed to be getting towards that level by 2016. I accept that there could have been allowable solutions under certain circumstances when it might have been difficult to get homes up to that level, but they should have been the exception. The code level should have got as close to 6 as possible before those allowable solutions came about.

This is a very important infrastructure issue. If one is pursuing a major project to try to make sure that all the homes that are standing by 2050 are as energy-efficient as possible—as the Government claimed they had been doing with the energy companies obligation and the wider issues of energy efficiency in homes—it seems nonsensical and perverse not then to seek to build new homes that are as energy-efficient as possible to replace the ones that they were trying to make as energy-efficient as possible in the first place. However, that is what seems to be on offer in this Bill.

The Zero Carbon Hub is a group consisting of, among others, the National House Building Council, the Federation of Master Builders, the Home Builders Federation and major house building companies, all of which said that allowable solutions should be put in place only after the code for sustainable homes went up to something like a 60% improvement over part L of the building regulations. Yet the Government have simply said, “That’s not feasible—there’s no evidence. Lets put it down to 40%-odd over part L.” Indeed, the explanatory notes state:

“The intention is therefore to set a maximum on-site carbon dioxide emission standard for new homes and for the remainder of the zero carbon target to be met by house builders supporting off-site carbon abatement measures”.

What that means is that those homes will be built to nowhere near the zero-carbon-emission standard. Relatively modest improvements will have to be made over and above the part L building standard commitments and it will be possible to pay money to get out of that particular commitment.

Although the Government appear to be arguing, despite having no evidence, that the standard is unobtainable, the additional cost of building zero-carbon homes has halved since 2011. The payback for that additional cost takes only a few years in terms of the lower energy bills in homes built as close as possible to a zero-carbon standard, but the Government have decided that they do not wish to pursue that course.

Let us be clear that, under the Bill, a major element of infrastructure—new housing—is moving away from being zero or low-carbon in the future. The allowable solutions suggested by the Bill are not just applicable to circumstances in which it is not easy to make the homes zero carbon, but act as an excuse for making sure that those homes are nowhere near zero carbon. Moreover, the regulations are very unclear about the amount of money builders will have to put into the fund if they do not make their homes zero carbon. As we have heard, that may leak out from planning authorities and may not go towards alternative zero-carbon proposals for retrofit. That rag needs to be looked at.

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A number of other hon. Members have addressed the other rag that needs to be seriously examined, namely fracking. We need to be clear that the relevant clauses are all about trying to make sure that fracking can be undertaken as speedily and with as little examination as possible, as opposed to making sure that there are proper environmental safeguards and that concerns are properly addressed if fracking is to go ahead at all. I mentioned in an intervention that fracking usually takes place at least 1 mile, possibly 2 miles, underground, so what could be the harm in that? Unfortunately, however, the Bill suggests that anything below 300 metres—a third of a kilometre, not even a third of a mile—will be regarded as deep underground and therefore available for fracking.

It will be possible for there to be access beneath the land on which people live. As we have heard, regardless of assurances about safety, there are no proposals for any kind of baseline or environmental impact assessment. Even if concerns are correctly expressed, such as the question of what might happen to the land should there be a fault with it that could lead to some damage being done, we do not know who would be responsible, because there will not be that baseline assessment.

We also do not know—there is nothing about this in the Bill or elsewhere—what the position will be regarding the accumulation of such holdings. It appears that the regime envisaged will simply enable drilling after individual planning permission is given and accumulation will not be an issue as far as water or fracking fluid are concerned. Indeed, it is not even an issue with regard to where fracking goes.

The Bill’s proposals fall far short of the very minimum that one might expect from any sort of regime that would make fracking an assuredly safe procedure as far as the public are concerned. It is of paramount importance that public concerns about the safety of the fracking process should be addressed. If we persist in putting through legislation that appears to suggest the opposite to the public, it will not be surprising if they continue to raise very serious objections about what is going on behind the whole process and ask whether the design of the process is in their interests at all or in someone else’s interests entirely.

7.46 pm

Stephen McPartland (Stevenage) (Con): I am more optimistic about the Bill than some colleagues who have already spoken. It is common sense: it releases a huge amount of economic growth, jobs, houses and building potential. It gives us a vision for the future in which Britain is building again and moving forward.

A huge part of the Bill is the road investment strategy, which has not been discussed as much as it should have been. The strategy is a massive testament to what this nation is going to do. The strategic road network makes up only about 2.5% of all paved roads, but it accounts for about 30% of all road journeys. However, in my constituency in my part of Hertfordshire, which I share with my right hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr Lilley), the network accounts for a lot more than 30% of all journeys. Junction 6 to junction 8 of the A1M runs from Welwyn Garden City to Hitchin, and it goes down to two lanes along that route. For more than 30 years, my constituents and others in our part of Hertfordshire have been stuck in huge tailbacks, which has put a massive chokehold on the economic potential of Hertfordshire.

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To put that in context, I should say that my constituency builds 25% of the world’s telecommunications satellites; has GlaxoSmithKline’s largest research and development facility in the United Kingdom; builds complex weapons systems; and houses the headquarters of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. We have more than 10,000 scientists and engineers, more than 800 apprentices starting work every year, and unemployment is at about 2.6% at the moment. The reality is that economic growth in Hertfordshire is being choked by the stranglehold on one of our main local arteries, and that has been a huge problem for a huge number of years.

I was absolutely delighted to hear the Secretary of State announce in his statement last week that the A1M is going to be widened and that there are plans to make our section of it a smart motorway. That will include widening the two-lane sections so that there are dual three-lane sections and hard-shoulder running, which will be absolutely amazing for my constituents and those of my neighbouring MP. This massive investment in our local roads will allow our constituents to get to work, and that is important.

On the importance of rail, Stevenage train station alone—it is one of two train stations in my constituency—has 4.2 million passenger journeys a year. We are 26 minutes from King’s Cross. About half of my constituents work in London and they make that journey either by rail or by road. It is incredibly important for our part of Hertfordshire that we now have a great railway system with more carriages, more seats and more services. We also have the huge opportunity to allow our constituents to get along the roads in Hertfordshire. The potential for economic growth from the huge investment in our road strategy is absolutely unimaginable, and I fully support the Bill in relation to that wonderful strategy.

On some of the bits and pieces, I understand that it will cost about £8 million a mile to do those two sections, so it is a huge commitment. Smart motorways were first introduced in 2006-07, a positive step by the previous Government. They have been trialled, and we very much look forward to their introduction in our section of Hertfordshire. That will be done quickly and with the least possible disruption for people who currently get stuck on those two lanes.

In relation to the Highways Agency being turned into a Government-owned company, I want to make a tiny point about non-offensive graffiti. I have had correspondence and discussions with Ministers about non-offensive graffiti on the strategic road network. Although it may seem a small matter, one of my constituents, Steve Prince, has campaigned for several years for its removal. Sadly, Ministers always say that there is a duty on the Highways Agency to remove it, but the Highways Agency’s employees and contractors say that they do so only in areas near where work is already being done. To put this in context, many people use the strategic road network in my constituency, which means that the entrance to such a high-technology area is sometimes affected by graffiti that is not usually removed; offensive graffiti is removed, but non-offensive graffiti is not. I hope that the new Government-owned company will take that matter a little more seriously than the Highways Agency does currently.

One provision in the Bill relates to speeding up the sale of public sector land. I am proud to say that Stevenage was the first new town in the United Kingdom.

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It was developed from 1946 to 1980, when the Stevenage Development Corporation ceased to exist. For us, there is still a huge amount of public sector land, and there is a huge opportunity to build houses on such areas. While I have been its Member of Parliament, the population of my constituency has grown—from 69,000 electors to nearly 73,000 electors. We are building the expected number of homes, and we are trying to ensure that there is a great opportunity for young people to have somewhere to live.

I am also proud that the local Labour council is building its first council houses for more than 30 years because of the investment that the Conservative Government have provided to enable that to happen. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) is not in his place, but I am sure that he would be delighted to know that five of those houses are bungalows.

I asked the Cabinet Office some questions for written answer about providing a full inventory of local and national public land and property held, and about the timetable for when that might be published. Earlier today, I received an answer in good time, as always, which referred me to the Government property finder website. One aspect of the Bill relates to the Land Registry. Although the Land Registry building—a very large site in the centre of Stevenage that has been empty for a number of years—is owned by the Government, it is not actually on the website, and I was surprised that a range of other buildings and bits of land that I know are owned by the Government or the Homes and Communities Agency are not on it either. I am talking about a property in excess of 300,000 or 400,000 square feet, with seven floors and 300 car parking spaces—it is bigger than the Tesco next door—so its being left off is quite a big deal.

In discussing getting value for such a property by selling or releasing it, for me the question is about whether we should get economic value by trying to sell it for what it is worth or social value by handing it to an affordable homes provider, such as North Hertfordshire Homes, to develop it into affordable apartments for local people, who would then be able to work and reside in the community. When there is talk about selling a property, I want a better understanding about the distinction in relation to its true value: is there just an economic value or is there a social value? I have sites in my constituency that have been empty for a number of years; one has been empty for 16 years, and is also about 400,000 square feet. For us, such a step would make a huge difference by increasing the number of affordable homes in our area.

Finally, I want to talk quickly about the community electricity right in part 5 of the Bill. A number of solar farm applications are currently being made in my villages. The community electricity right will not kick in until June 2016, I believe, but will Ministers say whether local people can exercise that right in relation to solar farms that have not yet been given planning permission or been built?

7.55 pm

Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): Hon. Members’ comments have illustrated the very wide-ranging nature of the Bill. Mine will concentrate on the proposals for the strategic road network, and their implications for transport planning and regeneration.

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I very much welcome the attention the Bill gives to the strategic road network. More than 65% of all journeys take place on that network. It is used on more than 65% of freight journeys. The Department says that more than 47% of English road users use the network at least twice per week. In estimates for future congestion and traffic increases, it is thought that traffic on the network will have increased by 46% by 2040.

It is therefore extremely important to look at the network, and to see whether investment in it can be made efficiently and effectively. We certainly need to end the current stop-go of announcements being made about road investments that simply do not happen, with maintenance being cut, which is greatly to the detriment of motorists. We need something better.

It appears that the proposals for the road investment strategy and the five-year funding packages could offer prospects for change and could bring some stability in funding, but I have major concerns about them. Such concerns are echoed by the Transport Committee’s recent consideration of the issues.

The plans for the strategic road network have not been put in a wider context that would allow us to look at different types of transport and consider not just different proposals for road schemes but whether road is better than rail or whether there are alternative ways of addressing the problem. The link between local roads —the role of local authorities and local enterprise partnerships—and the strategic sector is unclear. Decisions are increasingly made through city deals or by combined authorities, and there are proposals for further devolution; yet the Bill does not make it clear how such plans or proposals relate to investment in the strategic network. On the face of it, the road investment strategy plans mean firm commitments to an investment programme, but it is not clear whether that is the case. Will statements about what is going to happen simply be followed by stops and starts?

In the recent statement on road building—part of the autumn statement—there were many welcome announcements. However, many of them were old announcements in relation to which there had been cancellations and postponements, and much of what was said in Parliament is in fact for the future. The statement was not therefore what it seemed. Will the new regional strategy statements be what they seem, or will they in fact be more of the same?

The Bill contains a controversial proposal to replace the Highways Agency with a Government-owned company. Serious questions must be asked about whether that is the best way forward, or whether it would be better to reform the existing Highways Agency to have better management and relationships. Changing the structure by moving from an agency to a Government-owned company can be very disruptive and costly. The remit of the company would not be substantially different from the agency’s. It must be questioned whether the predicted £2.6 billion of savings, to be achieved over 10 years, will actually happen. That very big change has big implications, and it is not at all clear whether it is the right way to go.

There are outstanding questions about the accountability of the proposed company. It is planned that the Office of Rail Regulation will monitor what happens and that a reorganised Passenger Focus will be a watchdog. During the passage of the Bill through the other place, changes were made that might have made the situation

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better than it looked initially. However, there are still questions about how it will operate. Will all road users be involved? Will it just involve motorists, or will it involve pedestrians and cyclists as well? Will all people who have an interest in our road structures be able to have a say and to have some influence? That is not clear.

There is a wider question about the availability of the necessary skills to promote transport investment—investment in our roads and rail. That is a major question that is not fully addressed in the Bill.

My comments are a contribution to the discussion about the strategic road network. It is an essential artery for road transport in this country, but it is vital that it is looked at together with the need for investment in rail. There must be a proper assessment of what is the best mode of transport to deliver what is required. The Bill, as it stands, will not produce that end.

8.1 pm

Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman). I, too, will speak about highways, but I will also speak about land use planning and fracking. The link between the measures on all those issues is that they will improve the competitiveness of the UK economy and provide the conditions for growth, which will mean more jobs and will enable us to fund the many things that we want Governments to do.

Part 1 of Bill relates to road transport, which is massively important to businesses in my constituency because Rugby is, of course, at the centre of the UK and at the crossroads of the motorway network, with the M1, the M6 and the A14 meeting at Catthorpe. I want to put on record my gratitude for the recent announcement of new flyovers and underpasses on the A46 at Binley and Walsgrave, which will be of great help to my constituents who suffer from congestion in that area.

Rugby is in a strategic location, which has meant that the logistics industry has developed apace over recent years. We have the Daventry international rail freight terminal—DIRFT—where Eddie Stobart and Tesco are big occupiers, and where Sainsbury’s is developing the UK’s largest warehouse. Immediately adjacent to Daventry is the Rugby radio site, which will become a large housing development with 6,200 new homes and will provide the workers for the many distribution sites on the eastern side of Rugby. There is significant warehouse development adjacent to junction 1 of the M6, where Gap and Pearson Education have substantial units. Nearby, there is the Gateway site, the first occupier of which will be H&M, the clothes retailer, which will have a substantial site. At other sites, we have DHL, which delivers for the NHS, and companies such as Premier Foods.

The logistics industry is massively important to Rugby’s economy. It was previously thought of as a low-wage, low-skill industry, with big lads lifting boxes, but nothing could be further from the truth. I recently spent time at Premier Foods, which has had notoriety in recent days for other reasons. It is a big supplier to our major food retailers. At its distribution site in Rugby, it was introducing jobseekers, many of whom had been out of work for some time, to the modern workplace. It was preparing them for interview and for the environment that they would find on going to seek work. I saw forklift truck

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operators moving products around the warehouse using barcode readers. They had computer screens attached to the forklift trucks to provide maximum efficiency in the warehouse’s operations. Logistics is far from the low-scale, low-skill industry that many people paint it as.

Logistics is an industry that I am familiar with because I ran a small-scale wholesale distribution business that took advantage of Rugby’s excellent location and connections. In addition to efficiency in the warehouse, the logistics industry depends on an efficient trunk road network. I want to draw attention to two issues. The first is how the transport provisions of the Infrastructure Bill will assist us in dealing with congestion. It is believed that congestion will cost £10 billion by 2040. We need more capacity on the strategic road network to minimise bottlenecks and avoid congestion. The second issue is the need for prompt reopening of the strategic road network, whether it is an entire motorway or A road or lanes thereof, after catastrophic events.

On the first issue, if there is insufficient capacity, the logistics industry is able to make fewer deliveries per vehicle, which leads to an increased cost per delivery, a higher price for the customer and smaller profits being available to businesses for reinvestment. Often, the consequence of the slow reopening of a motorway or other road on the strategic network after an event that has caused it to close is that set-day deliveries cannot be made on the allocated day, leading to customers getting goods a day late, which can lead to problems with production processes that operate on a just-in-time basis. In businesses such as the one that I ran, if one day’s deliveries did not get out, it was necessary to hire a vehicle and employ a temporary driver for the following day to get the goods out. Of course, that adds to the cost of getting the product to the customer.

All those issues make improvements to the management of the strategic road network essential. It is for that reason that I support the creation of a strategic highways company in the Bill. The improvements need to take place at the right time to avoid the stop-start approach that we have had in recent years. I was interested to note the view of the Institution of Civil Engineers, which stated:

“Transforming the Highways Agency into a government owned company will facilitate a welcome shift away from the costly and inefficient stop/start pattern of investment that has plagued the development and operation of our road network.”

That will deliver an upgrade to the important logistics businesses in my constituency, enabling them to operate more efficiently and keep costs to the consumer down.

The businesses in my constituency expect the Government agency to be more accountable, in the same way that they are accountable to their customers. I am therefore pleased that clause 5 gives the Secretary of State the power to impose fines when the strategic highways company fails to meet the requirements of the road investment strategy. I am also pleased that clauses 8 to 12 provide oversight through an independent road users’ watchdog, which is currently known as Passenger Focus. That will provide more transparency and accountability and drive costs down, which is of great importance to businesses in Rugby.

I am interested to note the Labour party’s criticism that there is a lack of any reference to local roads. Strategic roads make up just 2.6% of the road network, but account for 60% of freight and business traffic. It is

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therefore entirely right that the Bill focuses on them. Local roads are a matter for local authorities and local communities when they determine their priorities.

The second set of proposals that I want to refer to are those on planning, land use and buildings. The Communities and Local Government Committee is looking at the operation of the national planning policy framework to see how that revised system, which was introduced just three or four years ago, is bedding in. Members will have to await our report, but during the evidence sessions we found no evidence that an overhaul was needed. It is interesting that the Opposition have no proposal to change the national planning policy framework fundamentally. Clearly, the system is bedding in and needs more time. The introduction of further uncertainty would not be helpful at this stage.

There are two areas where the Bill introduces proposals to the national planning policy framework. The fundamental principles of the NPPF are localist, right down to neighbourhood plans where small communities have their say on the types of development that can take place in their areas, but there need to be processes for the developments that we would describe as bigger than local. Much of this is currently dealt with under the Planning Act 2008, and refers to nationally significant infrastructure projects. I was interested to hear a Member earlier referring to the Thames tideway tunnel and Hinkley Point C power station as the kind of development that would be dealt with through the national significant infrastructure projects. That does not mean a great deal for my constituency, but of course we all need roads, water and waste projects. Traditionally, we have been glacially slow in dealing with planning applications in this area, and there is no question but that we need to speed up the process in the interests of making our economy more efficient and our manufacturers and businesses better able to compete with their overseas competitors. The Bill proposes to speed up the existing powers by appointing inspectors more quickly and by reducing bureaucracy and the cost of inspection through fewer inspectors on a panel. That will enable the country to get on with it, once principles for development are established.

A second area where the Bill would help to enable development get under way more quickly is on the discharge of planning conditions. These are delays caused once the planning process has been gone through, once the principle of development has been given on a site. The NPPF gives developers more certainty by directing development to those areas where the local planning authority has determined that planning should take place. Often, however, that certainty is replaced by an uncertainty over when the regulatory burden, through conditions, might be discharged. Development has been agreed in principle, but the developer is unable to make a start pending conditions, such as the preparation of a report. I was interested to hear, I think, my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) mention a builder who pointed out that a third of his land bank, a total of 5,000 plots, is currently awaiting reserve matters.

I am the first to acknowledge that planners are keen to see good development take place. Planning has a positive role, and the role of planning is not to frustrate

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developers. There are many good planning officers who hold regular meetings with developers, so that developers can understand well the priorities of a local planning authority. I single out as a very good planning department that of my local authority of Rugby borough council, which I know has a tradition of meeting developers. I am as keen as they are for good development to come to my constituency, because good development provides jobs and prosperity from which all my constituents benefit. I would expect a developer, faced with excessive conditions causing a problem with getting development under way, to meet local planners to resolve those conditions. That is the approach the Local Government Association, in its representation, is looking for.

Often, the local planning authority takes too long to respond to a request from a developer to be released from a condition. That can have the effect of delaying development from taking place, so I support the provisions for deemed discharge. I was interested to note the criticism from the Labour party that there are no garden city principles in the Bill. I think most of us can accept that the garden city principles are favourable principles, but it is a matter for local communities, if they wish to see them introduced in their area, to build them into their local plan to require that to take place.

On fracking, many years ago I studied land law and I seem to remember the principle that, “He who owns land does so up to the heavens and down to the centre of the earth.” That broad principle cannot exist in a general environment. We need to put this issue in perspective. Most fracking takes place at a minimum of 300 metres deep, which is 10 times deeper than the deepest London tube station. This is an important issue, because we need to get our energy costs under control. In my constituency, we have a cement manufacturer, and the most expensive place in the world to produce cement is the UK. We need to address fracking to get our energy costs down and to allow our businesses to be competitive with those in the rest of the world.

8.15 pm

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): I shall speak briefly, because I am having some difficulties with my voice. I want to raise two or three points, the first of which relates to fracking.

Fracking is a cause for concern in my constituency in the north-west of England. Neighbouring constituencies have already experienced exploratory drilling, so local people are concerned and anxious about what might take place in their neighbourhood. I endorse some of the comments that have been made across the House, in particular by my hon. Friends the Member for Wrexham (Ian Lucas) and for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead). There are a number of components, which have been overlooked and are not addressed well in the Bill, that need to be right before there is a rush for shale: the need for adequate safety regulation that offers people reassurance; and the need for transparency in that safety regime. Frankly, in our experience there has been far too much denial and secrecy where exploratory drilling has taken place. That secrecy, or non-acknowledgement of activity, understandably fuels alarm and anxiety further. Transparency is therefore a very important element of the safety regime that the Government need to introduce. My hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley) pointed out—she has had particular

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experience of this in her constituency—the need for proper preparatory work before any exploratory drilling, let alone extraction, takes place. That is not just in relation to safety issues, although they are vital, but to transport links, local amenities, policing and so on.

I want say a little about missed opportunities in relation to housing. There has been too little attention to what it is that will be built. I think that all parties share an ambition to expand considerably the number of homes, but it is important that those homes respond to our changing demographic and to maturing ideas about people’s right to live independently and choose the kind of life they want for themselves. We suffer not just from a lack of homes, but from a lack of accessible homes that people can live in throughout their lives and can grow old in. If their circumstances change and they become more frail, or if they have an accident that reduces mobility, people should be able to continue to live in their own homes.

Demand for disabled facilities grants massively outstrips supply. One report suggests that demand is 10 times greater than the funds available. A lot of our current housing stock could not be adapted—indeed, my own home probably falls into that category. It is very important that, as we look to expand significantly the development of new homes, we ensure those homes are built, from the outset, to accessible lifetime standards. That has been happening in London since 2004 and has been very successful, producing good value for money, exchangeable, accessible properties that people can remain in. I would very much have liked to see that learning taken forward in the Bill in relation to infrastructure development. There is concern that we will end up with optional national housing standards that are subject to very narrow viability criteria. We need standards that are mandatory and challenging, which local authorities are cognisant of, and that are integrated holistically in the planning and development process while we deliver our ambitions for significant numbers of new homes.

On roads, some of the exact same issues apply. We need to think from the outset, but also as road networks are developed and modernised, about how they serve people and places, and make places accessible in the widest possible sense. I appreciate that the Bill deals only with strategic highways, but they feed into and are fed by local roads, so it is obviously important that they, too, meet the highest possible standards, and that they meet people’s needs too.

I hope we can use the Bill to address access issues on our local streets and roads, especially the need to ensure that people with mobility issues and other impairments can safely access our entire road transport network. Shared vehicle and pedestrian spaces can cause significant difficulties for people with certain impairments—visual impairments, for example—as, too, can some street furniture design. It is a pity we will not be able to consider those issues, unless Ministers are prepared to think strategically and holistically about the road network, which I think they need to do. No one thinks their journey on a strategic highway starts when they get on the motorway; first, they have to get off their own driveway and up to the nearest junction, and the Bill misses that connectivity, which is a shame.

I am running out of juice, Mr Deputy Speaker, but thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the debate.

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8.21 pm

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): I commend the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) for her brevity and much of the content of her speech, and I congratulate the Minister on his opening speech. Those who heard it will agree that the shade of Disraeli stands permanently at his shoulder. He made an important speech about an important matter. For Governments of all shades and stripes, infrastructure—be it energy or transport infrastructure—has too often been a Cinderella subject, ignore and abused. As a result, today we have to invest a great deal of money—about £120 billion—in less than 10 years in our energy infrastructure: in the pipes, pylons and power stations that keep our lights on and our water warm.

Much of that investment will come—rightly—from the big six, but if the balance of the cost is not to fall on the consumer and taxpayer, much must also come from the small independent players that we must encourage into the marketplace. I know that that is what the Government want to do—it is what the Energy Act 2013 was intended to do—and I say to the Minister here now: do not let the great work of the Act and of the capacity mechanism be unwound by some siren voices in the Department of Energy and Climate Change who would like to see the capacity payments for 15-year contracts discounted to the value of an annual contract, because that will certainly discourage small players from entering the marketplace and entrench the position of the big six.

Whatever we do to invest in our energy infrastructure, in the short to medium term it will largely be in gas. Right now, as we sit in this Chamber, 38% of our generating capacity comes from combined cycle gas, 31% from coal, and just 6.5% from wind. If we are to turn off our coal-fired power stations in the next few years, we must, in the short to medium term, switch to gas to make up the shortfall—that is just the way it is—so we need to invest in those stations. However, that will expose us more to international hydrocarbon price fluctuations, which could hit consumers in this country. Part of the way to deal with that is to invest in gas storage, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Charles Hendry) said, but part of the answer is to allow our shale gas resources and companies to expand to scale, which they say they can do by 2020, so that we can hew our home-grown gas. It is important that we do that, and I commend that particular industry to everyone in the House.

Some have raised the concerns of local communities where fracking might take place, and we must address those concerns soberly and sensibly. I listened carefully to the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann), who is no longer in his place. He is a real champion for his constituents, but he and we have to be careful not to allow those concerns to snowball into scaremongering. I shall focus on just one thing he said, however, because my right hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr Lilley) eloquently demolished most of his concerns: the pollution of the aquifers.

In and of itself, fracking does not pollute the water supply. The shale gas layer is at least 300 metres, and often thousands of metres, beneath the earth’s surface, whereas aquifers are just a couple of hundred feet below it, and separating the water table and the shale layers are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of feet of solid rock. Impurities cannot move through that solid

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rock into the water table. Only if there is a failure of the integrity of the well can the water table be polluted. If someone drills a pipe half a mile underground, fills that pipe with concrete and then drills through that concrete and puts another pipe down, the chances of the well’s integrity being compromised are minimal—they exist, but they are minimal. That is the tone in which we need to address the shale gas opportunity and challenge, and I hope that everyone concerned about what shale might mean for their communities will make that fact clear.

I turn now to roads. The Secretary of State and I have not always seen eye to eye on transport. Our relations are very cordial—they have to be; he was once my Chief Whip—but he and I have not always agreed on HS2. However, there is not a grain of asphalt between us on the issue of road building which he announced last week and which the Minister made special reference to earlier today. In particular, I welcome the investment in the M42 around junction 6. It is a pity the Minister is not here, because he is a great student of G. K. Chesterton, and will know of Chesterton’s aphorism:

“The traveller sees what he sees; the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

A traveller or tourist on the central section of the M42 will not travel very far very fast, and all a tourist will see are the shimmering silos of the Kingsbury oil terminal. In the past, that road was often a car park. Now, 99,000 vehicles use the M42 each day, and more than 120,000 use the section of road around junction 6, so that investment has been very important.

However, I make a plea to the Minister here now. The opportunity that allows my constituents to commute more easily to Birmingham, where many of them work, and which encourages businesses to set up in Tamworth and people to come and live in Tamworth, also presents us with a challenge. We all accept the importance of localism, and we all accept that there must be devolution and that local authorities and county councils must control county highways. Unless we can also get investment in the road infrastructure in Tamworth, all those homes that there is pressure to build to meet the demands of people who want to live in the town cannot be built in the centre and might need to be built on the green belt and on the greenfield sites around it. Investment in the road infrastructure in Tamworth and similar towns will allow brownfield sites to be better developed for building homes. I hope that when the Minister responds, he will take care to recognise the importance of linking local authority development with the Bill.

That said, this is an important and welcome Bill. It takes our long-term economic plan and translates it into a long-term infrastructure investment. I say again that it is a pity that the Minister of State is no longer in his place because I know he is a great fan of St. Augustine, who said: “Go forth along your way as it must be on the path of walking”. I hope that with this Bill we will not simply be able to walk, but drive as well.

8.29 pm

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this important debate. Upgrading the UK’s infrastructure is vital to create jobs and prepare the country for the challenges

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that it is going to face over the coming decades. The Government stated that the Bill would

“improve how we fund, plan, manage and maintain our national infrastructure”.

I would argue, however, that without some fairly radical amendments—above all, to take account of climate change—they will fail on all those aims. That is why I sought—sadly, unsuccessfully—to amend the Bill. What we need are priorities that will put the UK on the path to a prosperous, zero-carbon, jobs-rich economy and will improve resilience to flooding and other climate impacts coming our way.

At present, sadly, this “business-as-usual” Bill will lock the UK into high-carbon, inefficient, polluting energy and transport systems in particular—and that at precisely the moment when we should be turning around and heading fast in a different direction for the sake of both our economy and our environment.

The crucial, overarching context for this Bill is helpfully illustrated by the new climate economy report launched in September. It builds on a growing consensus on the benefits of low-carbon economic development among leading international economic institutions such as the OECD and the World Bank—about as far from the so-called green blob as one could possibly get.

In an article coinciding with the report’s launch, the head of the OECD as well as the London School of Economics Lord Stern highlighted the choice that the UK and other countries must now make. They explain that if investment in infrastructure over the next 10 to 15 years is high carbon, the world will indeed “lock in” the risk of dangerous climate change. More positively, they write:

“What is now becoming clear is that reducing emissions is not only compatible with economic growth and development; if done well, it can actually generate better growth than the old high-carbon model…But governments must choose. Over recent years many governments have vacillated over climate policy. They have introduced carbon prices but then let them fall until they are near-useless. They have backed renewables but also subsidised fossil fuels. These inconsistent signals have created uncertainty for investors, damaging growth and retarding innovation.”

They go on:

“The prize before us is huge. We can build a strong, inclusive and resilient global economy which can also avoid dangerous climate change. But the time for decision is now.”

They could have been talking about the very Infrastructure Bill before us today, and as we enter the second week of global climate talks in Peru, I think it is clear that this Infrastructure Bill is sadly failing to make the right choice.

It is puzzling, because sometimes Ministers and indeed shadow Ministers go to great efforts to convince the public that they understand the benefits of transforming our economy to radically cut emissions. Last year, for example, the Prime Minister explained that

“we are in a global race and the countries that succeed in that race, the economies in Europe that will prosper, are those that are the greenest and the most energy efficient.”

I could not agree more with him on that. The Leader of the Opposition in The Independent yesterday set out a welcome and impassioned pitch for his ability to offer leadership on climate change, highlighting the increasingly stark science and the economic and social harm caused by dither and delay. Again, I agree. Yet the unswerving support from Labour’s Front-Bench team for the coalition’s

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new roads, whatever the delivery structure, and for fracking, however well regulated, undermines any such climate credibility. It suggests that they may be a little bit in denial about the inconvenient truth that carbon emissions do not come just from electricity generation. Crucially, for the purposes of this Bill, they come from roads as well.

Transport accounts for 25% of UK emissions and most of that is from roads, but there are many other reasons why building new roads should be at the bottom—not the top—of the UK’s infrastructure priorities. As the Government’s own figures and studies show, road building is bad value for public money, and it does not even cut congestion. More tarmac simply means more cars.

Today, the Environmental Audit Committee, of which I am a member, launched a new report that warns that air pollution from heavy traffic could be killing almost as many people as does smoking in the UK. During that inquiry, we heard that road traffic is the largest source of air pollution in most parts of the UK. To tackle the public health crisis of air pollution, we must redirect spending away from new road infrastructure, and into public transport, walking and cycling. It should be our priority to make those alternatives the cheaper, easier and more attractive options. Of course, we could also do more to improve existing local and national roads. I should like the Government to adopt the Campaign for Better Transport’s “green retrofit” programme for roads, which would be better value for money and good for local job creation, as well as having long-term benefits and undoing daily damage to both public health and our environment. I am also concerned about the setting up of strategic highways companies, a move which has been described as

“the final staging post to privatisation of the strategic road network”,

and which raises serious questions about accountability that have already been mentioned by Members

Let me now say a few words about fracking, because I know that the House would be disappointed were I not to do so. The proposals to allow fracking firms to drill beneath people’s homes and land without their permission is, to put it mildly, clearly hugely controversial and deeply unpopular. Ministers, however, are not listening to the public concern that has been expressed, although they keep talking about how important it is for the public to buy into fracking.

For me, the bottom line is that an effective response to climate change requires a complete shift to a carbon-neutral energy system within a generation in all the major economies, including Britain. We know how to do that: we have the technology and engineering capacity to do it, and we can afford to do it. All that we need is the political will, because we cannot do it while making ourselves more, not less, dependent on any kind of fossil fuel. According to the United Kingdom’s former top energy and climate diplomat, John Ashton,

“You can be in favour of fixing the climate. Or you can be in favour of exploiting shale gas. But you can’t be in favour of both at the same time.”

The Bill also provides for a duty to maximise the economic recovery of UK oil and gas. That flies in the face of the need for us to leave the vast majority of existing fossil fuel reserves unburnt if we are serious about tackling climate change. There was a growing

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amount of cross-party consensus on that imperative during last week’s debate on fracking. I hope that the Minister of State followed that debate, and I hope that his views on unburnable fossil fuels—and the financial risks of the carbon bubble—have changed since we debated such matters two years ago, when he maintained that my concerns were

“not only outside the mainstream, but, arguably, on the very fringe of the debate.”

That was his normal courtesy. I am only sorry that he is not present to hear me respond to it. He then told me that I should

“think again about the Government’s position.”—[Official Report, 18 December 2012; Vol. 555, c. 828-30.]

Given that the Governor of the Bank of England is now among those who are agreeing that most existing fossil fuel reserves need to be unburnable and need to stay below ground if we are to keep climate change below 2°C of warming, I hope that the Minister himself has had an opportunity to think again.

Meanwhile, the potential of UK renewables is huge. The sector already supports more than 100,000 jobs. Solar PV, which is just one of many diverse technologies that are at our disposal, could alone support nearly 50,000 jobs by 2030, and could power the equivalent of 18 million homes. A thriving home-grown renewable energy sector should be a top priority for the Bill, but, apart from the references to community energy rights, it is entirely absent. I think that we should replace the duty to maximise oil and gas exploitation with a duty to maximise sustainable energy generation from the UK’s wind, wave, solar, tidal and other renewable sources.

As for housing, energy efficiency should be the United Kingdom’s top infrastructure priority, and there should be funding to match. Retrofitting the UK’s leaky housing stock is the only permanent solution to fuel poverty and high energy bills, issues that I know are a high priority for my constituents. It is essential if we are to meet carbon targets, and it is also an economic no-brainer. Research for the Energy Bill Revolution campaign shows that an ambitious energy efficiency programme could create 108,000 new jobs, and would generate £1.27 in tax revenues for every £1 invested.

We need that retrofit programme, but new housing is important as well. The Bill, however, introduces an unforgivable dilution of the zero-carbon homes standard, and an exemption that could mean that up to 80% of new homes in some areas will not have to comply. That might be good news for the profit margins of developers who have been lobbying for it, but it is definitely bad news for carbon emissions, bad for home owners who will face unnecessarily high bills as a result, and bad for British businesses that would otherwise see a stable and growing market for on-site solar power and other renewables.

The Government’s arguments simply do not stack up. The UK Green Building Council and the Royal Institute of British Architects have pointed out that the exemptions will result perversely in higher costs for small-scale developments. They have also pointed to the dire lack of evidence to back up the Government’s claim that the exemptions would bring forward more house building activity from small builders.

Finally, I shall briefly put three areas of remaining concern in headlines, as I know others want to speak.

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The Bill fails to include measures to strengthen the UK’s resilience to flooding and other climate impacts such as urban heat waves. The provisions on invasive non-native species need to be rethought if they are not to threaten much-loved species such as beavers and barn owls. The changes to the planning system raise serious concerns that the quality of decision making and the rights of local people to have a meaningful say over development in their area are being sacrificed, along with so much else, on the altar of corporate convenience and speed.

8.40 pm

Sir Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove) (LD): I am very pleased to be able to contribute to the debate. The Bill is wide-ranging with many good features and I shall certainly be supporting its Second Reading, but it is certainly also not beyond improvement and I want to focus on one particular area where I believe improvements are urgently required.

The right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr Raynsford) and the hon. Members for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) and for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) referred to the legislative provision for the introduction of zero-carbon homes standards in 2016, which is the focus of clause 32. When I was a Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government I was very pleased to have my signature on the regulations that raised the standards of new housing energy performance by 25% compared with 2006, and I was very pleased that at that time we could renew the ongoing commitment for the zero-carbon homes standard to be achieved in 2016. My successors in the Department have seen a further upgrading in October 2013 and again a renewal of the commitment to achieve that standard in 2016. Clause 32 is the enabling clause to make that happen.

The problem is that behind that clause lies what appears to be an intention by the Government to introduce something that will not achieve zero-carbon homes in 2016. That will clearly need to be put right in Committee. There is a two-stage process in achieving zero-carbon homes. The first is to set minimum carbon compliance standards for the building itself. That is partly about the fabric of the building—the walls, the insulation and the solid bits of it—and it is partly about whether or not renewable energy generation, such as solar panels on the roof, is installed in the building. That is the on-site provision—the minimum carbon compliance standard. The UK Green Building Council and the Zero Carbon Hub taskforce have made recommendations about how that can be achieved, but it cannot always all be achieved on site. The design, layout and orientation of the site may not make that possible.

There is also a second stage: that the remaining carbon saving will be achieved off site through allowable solutions. A range of things can be done, such as the builder doing it off site themselves or paying into a fund —a payment that is based on the price of the carbon that is being saved. A key decision is how challenging to make that first stage of on-site provision, and therefore how much spills over into the off-site provision.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) commented on the impact on London of having a high level of spillover to the allowable solutions

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and his concern that investment might move out of London as a consequence. In preparing clause 32, the Government sensibly asked the Zero Carbon Hub taskforce to advise them on what standard to introduce. The group recommended that the minimum on-site standard to be achieved before allowable solutions could be used should be an improvement of between 56% and 60% on the energy performance standards of 2006. We must bear it in mind that we have made something like a 33% improvement with the two upgradings that have taken place under this Government so far. The figures of 56% and 60% are based on the building type involved, because it is easier to generate savings from some types of house than from others. The recommendation goes on to say that in the case of flats, which are particularly awkward, we should be heading for a 44% improvement in energy performance standards compared with 2006.

The Government have responded by not accepting the proposal for an improvement of between 56% and 60%. Instead, they are going to apply the figure of 44% to all building types—the lower level of saving that the taskforce recommended only for flats. That is a matter of concern, and it is difficult to understand why the Government have come to that conclusion. Was it because of cost, or because of the impact on the market? When the commitment to building zero-carbon homes by 2016 was signed off by the Department in 2011—I announced it from the Dispatch Box, so I know it happened—the assessment was that that was deliverable and affordable, and would have no adverse impact on housing starts or housing delivery. Instead, it would cut the fuel bill of a new zero-carbon three-bedroom house by £1,200 compared with that of the highly desirable Victorian homes that so many of us aspire to have.

What has happened since that assessment and that announcement? The first thing to say is that, since that time, the cost of doing it has been halved. It has not gone up; it has been halved. Upgrading to zero-carbon home standards will now cost only 50% of what it would have done if we had done this in 2011. That is a 50% cost reduction in three years. By 2016—or, probably more realistically, by 2018, 2019 and 2020, when the homes are actually being built—it is likely that the cost will have been halved again.

In the meantime, I have taken the precaution of asking the Prime Minister at Prime Minister’s questions whether it was still the Government’s intention to be the “greenest Government ever”. His response was a strong, positive yes. So my question to the Minister, and the issue that I want to explore as the Bill proceeds through Committee, is, why have the Government wobbled? It certainly was not as a result of the consultation they held, back in 2013, when 70% of the consultees were in favour of the standards proposed by the taskforce. We have heard about the consultation on fracking. Well, here we have a Government policy with a 70% approval rating that would cost at least 50% less than the Government thought it would when they first put forward the proposals. It therefore seems really strange that they should be watering down a policy with a lower cost outcome which is supported by 70% of consultees.

There is also the question of small sites. I am already on record in this place as saying that I think the size limit for small sites should be zero. I do not think there should be a small site exclusion, because that could open the door for unscrupulous developers to fiddle

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their site sizes and their phases so that they did not comply with the new standards. I am even more concerned about the false market that could be created in the longer term, whereby buying a home built on a small site could give someone higher bills than a home built on a larger site. What possible rationale could there be for that? I can see no logic in it or justification for it. It would ultimately be detrimental to the consumers who bought the homes if lower standards applied to them.

I hope I have said enough to ensure that the Whips do not put me on the Bill Committee. I hope I have also made the case that the Bill increases and improves the energy performance standards required of new homes. I do not deny the Government that, but they have unnecessarily hobbled themselves. They have failed to be as ambitious as they could be or as the consultees wanted them to be. There is an opportunity now to put that right and make sure that we take a genuine, positive, large step forward to zero-carbon homes in 2016.

8.50 pm

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I agree with every word that the right hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Sir Andrew Stunell) has just said. His speech follows on from the constructive work that he did when he was in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Having learned that we are burning fossil fuels and bringing about climate change on such a scale that it could destroy our planet, I find it almost insane that we should be bringing forward proposals that would mean our relying on another form of fossil fuel. I totally oppose the development of fracking in this country.

I shall concentrate on part 1, which deals with the Highways Agency and the road network. Sometimes I feel like shaking people in this building. There seems to be a loss of collective memory. Part 1 is the first stage towards the privatisation of our road network and it is on the same scale as the privatisations of rail, water and energy under the previous Conservative Government. I have the same dystopian vision of what will happen: once a GoCo has been set up, it will be broken up into regional franchises and sold off, almost inevitably to foreign-owned companies, most of them state run, exactly as 80% of the rail industry has been sold off. The story of the energy and water industries has been similar. There will then be the introduction of tolls, exactly as laid out in the Government’s response to the Transport Committee, and the tolls will fund exorbitant profiteering by those companies.

The House needs to wake up and recognise that the Bill represents the privatisation of our roads. We should be honest with the electorate and warn people that that is the consequence of the Bill. Why am I saying that? It is evidenced by what has gone on throughout this Government and previously. There is a loss of collective memory of what happened when the Conservatives were last in government. Throughout the 1992 to 1997 Administration, there were proposals to build on the privatisation of rail, water and energy by also privatising roads. In 1992 the Government published “Paying for Better Motorways”, in which they said that they would establish a single Government-owned company funded by road levies—that is, tolls—and possibly break it down into a number of privatised regional franchises, as has happened with rail and water. That was the

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Conservatives’ plan when they were last in power; now it is being implemented under a coalition Government. I hope some of the coalition partners wake up to the consequences of the Bill.

What other evidence is there? The plan is evidenced by the appointments that the Government have made to the Highways Agency. They brought in Tom Smith. Who is Tom Smith? He has just been put on the Highways Agency board. He is the chief executive officer of the M6 toll road. The Government brought in Elaine Holt. What was she? She was headhunted by the Department for Transport to lead on the east coast railway line—first in public sector management, but then to prepare it for privatisation.

All the evidence is there of the Government preparing for the privatisation of our roads. We saw it with the A14. The more recent proposals for the improvement of the A14 included tolling on that road, but there was such public uproar that even the Government had to pull back. We saw the evidence in the Government’s response to the Transport Committee. Paragraph 79 states:

“The Government will consider tolling as a means of funding new road capacity on the strategic road network. New road capacity would include entirely new roads and existing roads where they are transformed by an improvement scheme”

—that is, the investment programme announced last week. The strategy, as far as I can see, is to invest as much public money as possible to bring the roads up to a certain standard in the current period so that they can be privatised under the new agency that will then be broken up into regional franchises.

I note that clause 1 refers not to “a highways company” but to “highways companies”, to enable the Secretary of State to amend the legislation, under the Henry VIII clause later in the Bill, to enable regional franchises to be set up. I warn all the travelling public—motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and others—that our road network is about to be sold off, they will soon be fleeced by tolls and the tolls will subsidise the private profits of foreign companies. If anything provides evidence of that, it is the example of what happened to rail, energy and water when the Conservative party was last in government.

Having said all that, I wish to raise a number of issues on which I would like a response during the debate. I am concerned about the 3,500 staff, who, until now, have been commended for their hard work, commitment and professionalism. What will happen to them? TUPE is not provided for in the Bill. We have argued for it time and again, and in the past four and a half years TUPE has been put into only one Bill. All we have been given, yet again, are assurances that the staff will be covered by COSOP, the Cabinet Office statement of practice on staff transfers in the public sector—the protocol agreement similar to TUPE, but not as enforceable. I reiterate that to give the 3,500 staff greater security we should insert a TUPE commitment in the Bill.

There are arguments to be made about the financial savings and the claim that they will be £2.4 billion. I note the debate over whether VAT is to be charged. First, the Treasury denied that the VAT would be saved and therefore the cost could be, over six years, some £2.4 billion—almost the savings the Government are seeking to find. Then, in the other place, we were told that there was a guarantee that VAT would not be charged. I think that is open to legal challenge. We need greater certainty, otherwise this whole operation will be jeopardised from the beginning.

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We also need more details about the monitoring exercise, as we have a monitoring body that is not a regulator, no complaints procedure, and no information about the costings or the investment in the operation of the body. One of the worst aspects of privatisations in the past has been the way that remuneration at the top has gone through the roof while wages elsewhere in the organisations have not risen. We are told that remuneration will somehow be controlled through a central review. I do not think such constraints have worked elsewhere when these agencies have been set up—quite the reverse. I would like to see a ratio put in place between the highest paid and those who are on average earnings in the organisation. In that way we may be able to control the overall levels of remuneration in the future.

I am also concerned about clause 17, the Henry VIII clause, which puts such wide-ranging powers into the hands of the Secretary of State. We have now been assured that, through clause 46, the affirmative procedure will apply in respect of any changes in the legislation to be undertaken by the Secretary of State, but I am not convinced that that procedure gives those democratic protections of accountability to this House. I urge that the super-affirmative procedure be looked at.

Mr Hayes: I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. Gentleman but I want to make it perfectly clear that the Government and this Minister—I am the roads Minister, after all—have no intention of privatising our roads; have no intention of not having clear lines of accountability to both Government and this House for the work of the new agency; will set the priorities; will set the strategy; and will hold those responsible for delivering it accountable. I do not want to spoil the party, but I am afraid that he is fantasising.

John McDonnell: The Minister has not spoiled the party because I have no confidence or trust that this Government will not privatise. Assurances have been given on the Floor of the House about privatisation before and it has gone ahead. This Bill is the first step towards privatisation and towards introducing tolling on our roads—a new form of funding the road network that will be open to profiteering by foreign companies. I warn this House that if it passes this legislation, it will put at risk our road network in the future, our taxpayers and the future environmental policies that might be able to protect us against climate change.

8.59 pm

Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Con): I will not detain the House for long, so that remaining Members get a chance to speak. I have just a few points to raise, as many issues have been dealt with exhaustively. My hon. Friends the Members for Wealden (Charles Hendry) and for Castle Point (Rebecca Harris) spoke about gas storage. As I understand it, enough applications for gas storage have already been approved, but they have not been carried through. I raise the matter because Halite in my constituency has made an application for gas storage. It has been turned down three times—once by the previous Government and twice by this Government. It is now on its fourth application. I just want to underline the fact that we in the area are against that permission being granted, and I have the support of my

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hon. Friends the Members for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard), for Fylde (Mark Menzies) and for Wyre and Preston North (Mr Wallace). This is to do not with gas storage in the future but with the issue of approvals. The application from Preesall in Lancashire has not been approved and has been turned down three times. I just wanted to put the record straight on that.

The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) mentioned the matter of neighbourhood planning and raised some very sensible points. He and the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) talked about the ability locally to influence not just the number of houses but the style of houses. I wish I was in the position of my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Stephen McPartland) and able to get approval for a few more bungalows, so that older people could downsize but stay in the villages where they have always lived. I hope that the Bill delivers some real power to neighbourhood planning, as local people need a say in the type of housing required.

As Members expect, my main point is to do with clauses 38 to 40 in part 5 on geothermal energy—or fracking. Clause 38 (1) says:

“A person has the right to use deep-level land in any way for the purposes of exploiting petroleum or deep geothermal energy.”

As I understand it, the Government are trying to win popular support for fracking. To have such a clause in the Bill will act as a red rag to a bull. That subsection is reinforced by clause 39 (3), which says:

“The right of use includes the right to leave deep-level land in a different condition from the condition it was in before an exercise of the right of use (including by leaving any infrastructure of substance in the land).”

Whoever secures such a right can leave whatever they want below the land. As the hon. Member for Angus (Mr Weir) said, a system already exists for securing such rights—people could argue their case before the courts. We are now removing that right. Some Members, such as my right hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr Lilley), for whom I have a great deal of respect, are telling me that there is nothing new in that, citing the example of the coal industry. Come to parts of Lancashire and see the ravages of the coal industry and coal mining in terms of subsidence and the fall in housing values, and tell me about support. If there are Members who believe in the issue and wish to win the political and community argument, I suggest that fewer references are made to the depredations of coal.

Unlike the hon. Members for Wrexham (Ian Lucas) and for Angus, I have no ideological argument against shale, but what many of us in Lancashire have said about winning the debate is that, unlike coal and other massive developments, there should be a real return for the people most affected. A number of Members, across parties, have been trying extremely hard to get that message across. To some extent, there has been some give. The references that the Chancellor and the Secretary of State made to a sovereign wealth fund, which some of us argued for on behalf of Lancashire but which has now become a sovereign wealth fund for the north—I have some views about Yorkshire sharing in anything that we produce—shows that there has been movement.

The argument is that it is the people most affected and closest to the operation, not just the Chancellor and the companies, who should get the long-term dividend

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from the operation. However, the Bill does not define the payment scheme. Clause 41(1) states:

“The Secretary of State may, by regulations, require relevant energy undertakings”

to make payments. I know that that is the terminology we use in the construction of Bills and laws, but the Government are trying to win an argument about the need to develop shale as rapidly as possible. I buy some of those arguments. I buy the argument on the need to replace coal, and the argument that renewables will not certainly exist in the quantities we need to fill the gap. I buy the argument that gas may lower carbon emissions for the time being. However, I do not believe that clauses such as those in such a complicated Bill will win anybody over in my part of Lancashire. People will not have the confidence that their concerns are being dealt with effectively until Ministers come forward and explain the situation.

Whatever happens with fracking—the security of the aquifers and the rest of it—it will, at the very minimum, cause disruption. I have argued long and hard in the House. I understand that Ministers are beginning to listen, but currently their argument is back to front. They should have come forward with much more definite answers. What are the returns for people in Lancashire who will be putting up with that new industry? Currently, I am not able to support that part of the Bill.

Mr Hayes: I hope I can persuade my hon. Friend to support the Bill on this basis: as a result of the arguments he and others have made, including the arguments made by Opposition Members during my speech, I will be happy to convene a meeting with Members who have concerns about the community interest in the exploitation of shale. We have debated that in the House and I have spoken about it. I am more than happy to ask the Department of Energy and Climate Change to convene such a meeting. I hope, on that basis, that my hon. Friend will change his mind about supporting the Bill.

Eric Ollerenshaw: I am grateful to the Minister, but with great respect—I have great respect for him as a Minister—we have had meetings and more meetings, and I have to go back to Lancashire and explain to people what the Bill means. As I have said, I understand the terminology we use, but when it comes to my support for the Bill, I am not convinced tonight that I have a definite figure for the benefit for Lancashire.

9.7 pm

David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con): I welcome the Bill because I believe infrastructure is the key to our economy and recovery. I managed to secure £123 million-worth of investment for a link to the M6 motorway in my constituency. That road has been discussed for 60 years. My constituents can now see that vital route being built, and are grateful to the Department for Transport for giving the road the green light, if hon. Members will excuse the pun.

The road has brought with it an upgrade to the port, a footprint for the third nuclear power station in Heysham, and countless contracts for business in the White Lund industrial estate, not to mention a projected rise in house prices in the area. My constituents know only too well the benefits of infrastructure to our local economy.

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No area in the country should be left to stand still, and I welcome the Government’s ambitions for a northern powerhouse. My constituents welcome the Chancellor’s vision, because they believe that too many of our past Governments’ policies have benefited only the south of our country. [Interruption.]

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. There seems to be some kind of noise. Is it the hon. Gentleman’s phone or is something else being picked up?

David Morris: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.

I welcome the Bill’s sentiments, which allow for long-term funding for strategic road building projects. A much needed strategic link in my constituency is a transport tunnel under the bay towards the Furness peninsula. A transport tunnel on that scale is the obvious next step as an extension, or phase 2, of the M6 link project. It would not only link the M6 to the port and nuclear power stations in Heysham, but create a streamlined route for access across the bay to the nuclear installations and BAE Systems on the Cumbrian coast. I want a tunnel that would allow two-way traffic between Heysham and Barrow. Currently that journey takes approximately one hour and 30 minutes, but a tunnel would cut it to 20 or 30 minutes maximum, saving more than two thirds of the journey time and freeing up traffic on the road in a vast rural area.

The inspiration for such a tunnel is twofold. For many years various groups have discussed how to link those two strategic areas, and there have been suggestions of a cableway across the bay and a barrage bridge over the sands. Before the economic downturn in 2007, £800 million was reportedly on the table from the Bank of Scotland to construct a barrage, but due to Morecambe bay being designated a site of special scientific interest and a habitat for rare birds and wildlife, the idea never became a reality. It shows, however, that there is commercial interest in linking the two areas.

Early this year I was approached by National Grid, which as part of connecting new energy installations in Cumbria came up with the idea of a power cable under Morecambe bay. The idea is currently under consultation. National Grid believes that as the tunnel would go under the sands and would not disrupt wildlife, it will not come up against the same environmental constraints as the barrage project did. National Grid invited me to Willesden junction in London to see the power tunnel that is being built underneath us right now, and to show me the technology it used. I was fascinated by the visit, which showed me that the technology for a tunnel not only exists in this country, but that it is being utilised as we speak. We have some of the best tunnelling experts in the world, and if a power tunnel can be built under the sands there is no reason why a transport tunnel would not be a viable option.

In my constituency, funding is becoming a bottleneck. Since becoming Member of Parliament I have secured more than £700 million of investment from the Government, and the area is booming with business. Opening the area further to the Furness peninsula would greatly benefit the many manufacturing and energy companies on my side of the bay and the peninsula. On the Cumbrian coast we have BAE Systems, Sellafield, and the National Nuclear Laboratory. If workers at Heysham power station in my constituency could access

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those sites more easily, it would create greater scope for the sites to work together. A tunnel would create more employment opportunities in science and technology for young people in my constituency. Both areas have expertise in energy and engineering, and if they linked together it would create an Aberdeen effect for skilled workers in both areas.

Due to the M6 link, Heysham port is receiving an upgrade to enable it to process larger and bigger ships. A faster link to Furness would mean that more companies on the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and Cumbria would be able to use the port, creating more jobs and economic benefits for the area. A link under the bay would also help the local University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. Under the last Government the hospital faced many problems, and recent reports suggest that the biggest factor holding the trust back was the locations of the two sites. Lancaster and Barrow are not naturally linked, and it is a long and stressful journey to travel between the two. It is difficult to transport staff and patients between the two sites, and even more difficult to practise a joined-up approach. A tunnel would halve the journey between the two sites, allowing them to work more easily and closely together.

The tunnel would go not fully into Barrow but across the coast to Heysham where it would join the existing road network. Residents from both sides of the bay have contacted me in recent weeks to express their support for the scheme, and it seems to have captured public imagination. For such a project to go ahead we would need private entities to come forward and agree to proceed with it. As I said earlier, £800 million was on the table for a barrage about five years ago, and there is no reason why such a project should not attract the same investment again.

I am in talks with the local enterprise partnership in Lancashire, and hope that it will fund a feasibility study. I will meet representatives from it in the next few weeks to discuss the proposal further. The transport tunnel is a huge undertaking that will require a considerable amount of investment, but I have a can-do attitude and firmly believe that after securing funding for the M6 link project after 60 years of deliberation, no scheme is too big to be delivered. I look for guidance from my right hon. Friend the Minister as to how the tunnel could become reality and economically boost Morecambe and Lunesdale, and how this Bill can help my constituency become more of a part of the Chancellor’s northern powerhouse.

9.14 pm

Mark Menzies (Fylde) (Con): It is a great pleasure to be called to finish the Back-Bench contributions to the debate. I wish to touch upon a number of items in the Bill, but I will focus primarily on one specific area. Right hon. and hon. Members on both sides have used various terms to describe the Bill, including a rag-tag Bill. I prefer to call it a Christmas tree Bill, given that we are in the festive season, because many things appear to have been hung on it.

I will first mention one point the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) made on the design of new homes. She touched on something that is

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incredibly important for my constituency, which has an older population and where a considerable number of new houses are being built. The overwhelming majority of those new houses have bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs and living accommodation downstairs, but not living accommodation that could easily be reconfigured to cater for the needs of someone who is disabled or could become disabled, or who would not wish to have a chair lift fitted when they grow older or to move home. I urge the Government to give some serious thought to what measures could be introduced to encourage developers to build some future-proofing into new houses as they are being designed and as they go through the planning stage, because at the moment one size certainly does not fit all.

My purpose in rising tonight is to talk about an issue that concerns my constituency and that many other right hon. and hon. Member have touched upon: shale gas and fracking. It was back in 2011 that I secured my first Adjournment debate on the matter, and I have had subsequent Westminster Hall debates, in which my hon. Friends the Members for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Eric Ollerenshaw) and for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard) participated.

One of the things I called for in 2011 was the establishment of an independent body to oversee shale gas regulation. The purpose was not to supersede the regulators, but to ensure that the regulations that were in place and were likely to be in place were fit for purpose. It was partly as a result of that call that the Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil was born. I know that it was the Minister here tonight, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes), who was responsible for establishing that body, but I think that since he left the Department that body has not continued to flourish in the way he had originally intended. I ask the Government to ensure that that body is fit for purpose and adequately resourced and that it looks at issues such as community engagement and involvement, because that is one of the things that has fallen by the wayside.

It is not sufficient to say that the regulations are robust and adequate; we must demonstrate that they are robust and adequate. We must also have enforcement on the ground. For the Health and Safety Executive, which is based in Aberdeen, to say that it can do all that from Aberdeen without any presence on the ground in Lancashire is completely unacceptable to me, to my constituents and to people in Lancashire. If it wants to have a serious role—it is the only body that can have a serious role in this—I think that it has to have a permanent presence in Lancashire, and not just at the development stage, but from the earliest point of the exploration phase.

That brings me to the Environment Agency, which should have responsibility, above all agencies, for ensuring the safe and thorough regulation of environmental aspects. It really concerned me when a colleague who is a Lancashire county councillor highlighted to me that Lancashire county council had been in discussion with both Cuadrilla and the Environment Agency over the site at Preese Hall, which is located in my constituency. The council requested that the Environment Agency monitor the site for a period of up to five years. It then discovered that it had no powers to compel the Environment Agency to conduct that monitoring. The agency expressed

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reluctance, or even refused, to conduct environmental monitoring at the site and said that that obligation should fall on Cuadrilla.

Mr Hayes: My hon. Friend knows, as you do, Mr Deputy Speaker, that I eat reluctant bureaucrats for breakfast. If there is any such reluctance on the part of the Environment Agency, Ministers must ensure that it is aware of its responsibilities in this regard. I pledged to have a meeting with concerned colleagues, and I am more than happy to explore at that meeting what extra measures we need to put in place to ensure that the Environment Agency does its job. I am not aware that it is not doing it, but if there is a problem, let us for heaven’s sake deal with it.

Mark Menzies: I thank my right hon. Friend for that assurance.

As the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Richard Burden) said, when the Bill gets into Committee we will have to be rigorous and specific in considering certain amendments as to how we can improve regulation and its enforcement, and make sure that that regulation is absolutely robust. If I had had the opportunity to intervene on him, I would have welcomed his sentiments on that point, which, to be fair, the Minister also made in his opening speech. Based on those two assurances, I will support the Bill’s Second Reading. However, I will be unable to support its further progress if, in Committee, we are unable to improve regulation and I do not get assurances on how it will be enforced. That would cause me great sadness, because the Bill contains many good things that are unrelated to shale gas.

It is important that Labour Members do not fall into the trap of seeking to turn this into a party political football. The licence round in my constituency was awarded under the previous Labour Government; indeed, the Leader of the Opposition may even have been Energy Secretary at the time. It is therefore beholden on them to make sure that regulation is in place. It is no good their now saying that they do not support shale gas fracking, because if that was their sentiment when the Leader of the Opposition was Secretary of State, they should not have ventured down that path to start with. We must work together on behalf of our communities to ensure that regulation is robust. If it is not, and we get to a point where this cannot be done safely, then the only way to proceed is to say, “Thank you very much, but it’s not right for us.”

I want to make a point to those on both Front Benches about planning processes. Two planning applications are before Lancashire county council. I have deliberately avoided getting involved in trying to influence its decision one way or the other, because I firmly believe that it is the role first and foremost of a planning committee— in this case, the council’s mineral rights authority—to consider the merits and the negatives of a planning application. If it feels, as a result of due deliberation, that rejecting one or both sites is the right thing to do, we must accept its will. It would be wrong to trigger a process of judicial reviews and central Government seeking to overturn that decision. I believe, above all, in the importance of localism and of taking local people with us on these matters. If local councillors feel that they have taken the right decision, we must stand by them on that. There can be no easy way out and no

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expectation that someone further up the food chain will take a difficult decision for us. If the answer is no, then that is where we have to be.

If shale gas fracking does proceed and inspections start to take place, they must include a large number of unannounced inspections. It is no good letting the operator know when the inspectors are coming, although there will be times when that is necessary. Unannounced, and rigorous, inspections have to be the core of what we are seeking to do.

I say to Government Front Benchers that for the past four years I have worked to highlight the concerns of my local residents. I have also worked with various Ministers to make sure that we can improve the process under discussion. The caveat of my support has always been to make sure that the regulation is robust and that it can be done safely, but if it cannot be done safely it should not be done at all.

9.25 pm

Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham) (Lab): We have had a really good debate, with interesting contributions from Members on both sides of the House. I want to start by thanking my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr Raynsford) for making a powerful point about how unworkable the Bill will be if this Government’s approach to devolution is accepted. I also thank him for his comments on the need for a balanced approach to deemed consent and the need to update new towns legislation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Joan Walley) made an excellent case for the need for long-term planning for sustainable development. I also thank the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill). He is no longer in his place, but I totally agree with him on the need to overhaul our system of compulsory purchase orders. Labour has made it very clear that we would do that, and he was right to point out that it is a mission set by this Bill. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) gave a very good list of all the things it would have been helpful to discuss this evening in terms of adding to our infrastructure but that are omitted by the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) made an excellent point about the need for more measures to deliver more housing and said that those homes should also be accessible.

As always, my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) made an excellent case supporting better climate change measures in the Bill. He also highlighted why we must not weaken the carbon abatement measures that should be in existence.

The right hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) made an important point about the need to have infrastructure in place if we are going to deliver the homes needed in communities that people want to live in. I also agree with him about the importance of neighbourhood planning in this process. That point was also raised effectively by the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Eric Ollerenshaw).

I am not quite sure whether the hon. Member for Stevenage (Stephen McPartland) was arguing that graffiti is an invasive species and should be removed and not be part of the Bill. Unfortunately, he is not in his place to clarify that point.

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Lastly, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman), the Chair of the Transport Committee, for addressing the need for longer-term strategic planning and funding for transport, as well as the need to put transport planning in a wider context. Clearly, that is missing from the Bill.

I am sure we all agree that the subject of the Bill is really important. We all know that if we are to facilitate developing our economy, then upgrading old and delivering new infrastructure is vital. Our problem with the Bill is that it promises a lot but in reality delivers very little. As my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test said, this is a ragbag of measures. The Bill claims that it will bolster investment in infrastructure and improve Britain’s economic performance. It claims that it will improve the planning process, allowing us to get on and get Britain building for the future, and that it will provide a stimulus for job creation across transport, energy, housing developments and national infrastructure.

Although we acknowledge that a few measures here and there may be helpful—such as transferring land to the HCA, and simplifying procedures for nationally significant infrastructure projects—overall we think that the Bill represents a huge lost opportunity to set out a smart framework for the delivery of infrastructure that would provide high-quality places and the necessary support systems for the nation’s future needs.

This weak legislation has been produced against a legacy of poor Government performance and investment in infrastructure and in its delivery. They may have made a flurry of recent announcements on infrastructure, but they are unlikely to make up the ground lost in previous years when infrastructure investment slumped. For example, a Cabinet Office update in May 2013 showed that the value of construction work fell by more than a third—36%—or £11.1 billion between 2012 and May 2013. We have had a fanfare of announcements about the £40 billion for the UK guarantees scheme, but few projects have actually been supported, which recently led the CBI to comment that it was

“exasperated with progress to date.”

It appears that the lack of progress on loan guarantees is reflected elsewhere, with too little support for house building, transport and green energy subsidies. Let us remind ourselves of the Bill’s inadequacy with regard to the delivery of much needed infrastructure. As my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Richard Burden) pointed out so eloquently, there is complete bewilderment about why a top-down reorganisation of the Highways Agency has been proposed. I would have thought that Ministers had learned their lesson about unwanted and unnecessary reorganisations, but perhaps not. If they have, they need to explain why a reorganisation is necessary, when the market clearly wants funding certainty. As my hon. Friend said, the highways measures in the Bill will affect only 2% of roads.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): One of the things missing from the Bill is an emphasis on park and ride. To take people out of vehicles and on to public transport, we are making public transport more accessible and more cost-effective. In Northern Ireland, where it is a devolved matter, we have already taken steps to bring in park and ride—including in my constituency just last

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week—and there are other examples of what can be done. Does the hon. Lady share my concern about the absence of park and ride from the Bill?

Roberta Blackman-Woods: The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. I am tempted to add park and ride to the long list of items omitted from the Bill that hon. Members have mentioned.

Mr Brooks Newmark (Braintree) (Con): The hon. Lady is taking a glass half-empty rather than a glass half-full approach. The Government are making a number of long-term commitments for improving the infrastructure of this country. Will she at least say that she will abide by those commitments should she ever get into power?

Roberta Blackman-Woods: The hon. Gentleman will have to wait to hear what I will say about the range of provisions in the Bill.

More alarmingly, the Bill could make things worse by diverting expenditure from the road network used by 67% of traffic. These are the very roads that need urgent attention in terms of the £12 billion funding black hole for potholes, not to mention measures to reduce congestion. Most tellingly, all this means that 91% of the public are dissatisfied with the state of the roads, which the Government surely need to address.

I am going to come on to the planning measures—or rather, the lack of them—in a minute, but it is obvious to everyone except this Government that meeting our infrastructure needs requires joined-up planning between strategic and local networks. That is the sort of devolution of powers that Labour is proposing—giving powers to local authorities, either singly or in combination, so that they can plan for the needs of the area—but we see no joined-up thinking coming from this Government. All the Bill does is to propose minor changes to the national infrastructure planning regime to allow two inspectors to sit on the panel of an examining authority and to allow the Secretary of State to make changes to development consent orders once they are made.

A recent report by the London School of Economics—one of the many recent reports on this topic—argues for a new approach to infrastructure in this country. Labour has grasped that, which is why we set up the Armitt review to look at how we should approach the planning and delivery of national infrastructure projects. Armitt accepts much of the Planning Act 2008, but argues for an independent national infrastructure commission and cross-party agreement to prevent the start-stop regime that is often experienced by major infrastructure projects. To tackle that, we shall table amendments in Committee to try to persuade the Government of the sense of adopting the Armitt proposals.

Mr Hayes: Just to be absolutely clear, the feasibility studies that we carried out on the major road schemes that I outlined were on the basis of a dialogue with all the local agencies through a series of stakeholder events in which I was involved personally and the proper analysis of local needs and how they interface with the major schemes. I would not want the hon. Lady to have the misguided impression that we were not diligent in the process by which we devised our roads strategy.

8 Dec 2014 : Column 737

Roberta Blackman-Woods: I take the point Minister’s point, but I still think we are lacking a structure that will effectively link more strategic planning for roads with local planning and delivery. Perhaps that is something that he and I can discuss in Committee.

Ian Lucas: Are not the days of largesse being distributed by central Government for transport and infrastructure projects gone? The responsibility and the decision making need to be devolved to a much more local level so that people who know about these instruments, rather than people who hold a stakeholder event on a flying visit, make the decisions.

Roberta Blackman-Woods: My hon. Friend makes a good point. That is why I spoke of the importance of devolving powers to local authorities.

On the deemed discharge of planning conditions, conditions are there for a reason, which is often to make a development acceptable to local residents. Deemed discharge, if not done properly, risks losing the support of local communities and slowing up developments. According to the Government’s consultation, the main problems for local authorities are

“delays caused by third parties and resource constraints”.

The Bill does nothing to address those issues. Deemed consent needs to be appropriate to the issues concerning a specific development. We will study the impact of the changes closely in Committee.

Speeding up the transfer of land to the HCA is clearly to be welcomed, but I look forward to receiving further information from Ministers in Committee about how much additional land the changes are expected to bring into the system. It would also be helpful to know how many stalled sites the measures are expected to bring forward. Does the Minister envisage that the proposals will lead to the availability of more land for garden cities?

Given the recent announcements by the Government, the Bill is surprisingly quiet on measures that will deliver new garden cities in line with garden city principles, rather than just housing schemes. New housing is, of course, to be welcomed, but new housing developments do not become garden cities just because the Government label them as such. Again, it appears that the Bill represents a huge lost opportunity for the Government to update the new towns legislation and deliver the homes that our country so desperately needs.

If I am flummoxed as to why there are no measures to support new garden cities in the Bill, I am equally at a loss in trying to understand why the changes to the Land Registry are necessary. The Government have given no real rationale for that measure. That has led many Opposition Members and others to worry that the purpose is simply to fatten up the Land Registry for privatisation. Perhaps the Minister could reassure us on that specific issue when he sums up.

We have concerns about watering down the standards for zero-carbon homes, and that was mentioned by a number of hon. Members. A bit of advice I would give to the Minister is to listen to his right hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove (Sir Andrew Stunell), who seems to have a pretty good grasp of what the Bill should contain.

On fracking, my hon. Friends the Members for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley) and for Warrington North (Helen Jones), the right hon. Member for Arundel

8 Dec 2014 : Column 738

and South Downs, my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent North, the hon. Members for Eastleigh (Mike Thornton) and for Angus (Mr Weir), my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Ian Lucas), the hon. Member for Castle Point (Rebecca Harris), my hon. Friends the Members for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) and for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), the hon. Member for Fylde (Mark Menzies) and others said they were very concerned that there were not sufficient regulations on fracking to allay public concern, and that they will be tabling amendments, as will the Opposition, in Committee. Clearly, the Government need to address this issue further.

In conclusion, I share the sentiment of many in Parliament and beyond that the Bill could have done much more to enable economic growth and deliver the infrastructure our country so desperately needs to modernise and develop. In government, Labour delivered on infrastructure: £93.7 billion on the road network and £32 billion on the decent homes standard; and we invested heavily in renewable energy. By contrast with this Government, Labour will put measures in place to promote growth, ensure that it is defined by quality and inclusion, and encourage development that will enhance the built and natural environment of the nation. I would like hon. Members to support the reasoned amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

9.41 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Stephen Williams): This has been a wide-ranging debate, which is entirely appropriate for a very wide-ranging Bill that spans three Departments and several Government agencies. Between us on the Front Benches we have heard from 25 colleagues, so I hope the House will understand that I cannot respond to every point raised in the time I have available. I will focus on the main points that have been raised on roads, zero-carbon homes and the energy provisions.

On reform to our national road network, the upkeep of our road network is vital for the economy. That is why the Government are investing more than £6 billion in this Parliament, and £12 billion in the next, on highways maintenance for strategic and local roads—enough to resurface 80% of the national road network and fill 19 million potholes a year on local roads. One of the provisions is to convert the Highways Agency into a company that is wholly owned by the Government. Contrary to several observations that have been made, for example by the hon. Members for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) and for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), there is absolutely no intention that the new highways company will be privatised. In response to the question put by the hon. Member for City of Durham (Roberta Blackman-Woods), that applies to the Land Registry, too. The reforms to the Land Registry are necessary to bring local land charges into the 21st century and digitise 348 card indexes around the country. There is absolutely no intention to fatten up either company for privatisation.

Helen Jones: Many of us remember the Government saying that they had no intention of raising VAT either. Would the Minister like to give us a cast-iron guarantee that this wholly owned company will not be privatised by this Government in the future?

8 Dec 2014 : Column 739

Stephen Williams: I can give a cast-iron guarantee that, during the remaining three or four months of the coalition Government, there is absolutely no chance whatever of the company being privatised. As for what happens in the next Parliament, I am sure the hon. Lady is as aware as I am that no Parliament can bind another, so it will come down to the parties’ manifesto commitments.

The national road network is vital. Even though it represents only 2% of the road length, it carries 30% of all traffic and 60% of all freight and business traffic, and 90% of our constituents will use it every year. My hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Christopher Pincher) mentioned the M42 and quoted from G. K. Chesterton. I am sure the Minister of State will enjoy reading it in Hansard tomorrow.

Various questions were raised about the local road network, including by the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Richard Burden). A duty will be placed on the new company to co-operate, including with local authorities, and the road investment strategy will provide long-term certainty of investment and clear performance and delivery expectations. This will give local authorities greater clarity on the implications for the local road network, allowing them to prioritise their investments better. The governance and performance structure will ensure that the strategic highways company forges open and effective relationships with local bodies through their route strategies.

On the hon. Gentleman’s question about spending, I can tell him that £4.7 billion has been spent on local roads this Parliament—27% more than throughout the lifetime of the last Parliament—and we have already announced £6 billion for the period 2015-16 to 2020. He also asked, as did several other Members, about the accountability of the new company. Ministers will remain accountable to Parliament for the way roads are run, and the strategic highways company will be accountable to Ministers for delivering the road investment strategy. Oversight from the Department for Transport, the strategic roads network monitor and our new Transport Focus will ensure that those strategies are delivered.

The Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Joan Walley), made a wide-ranging speech, but in particular she mentioned air quality. The Government obviously take their air quality responsibilities incredibly seriously, and the Bill will place a general duty on the company to consider the environment, including the impact of its operations on air quality. I am sure the report her Committee published today will inform its work.

The Government have invested £400 million this Parliament to support the market for ultra-low emission vehicles, with a further £500 million being invested through to 2020. Specifically on air quality, we have committed £100 million in the roads investment strategy to support improvements in air quality and mitigation for new schemes. I shall come to zero-carbon homes shortly, but I should mention at this juncture that one of the allowable solutions for off-site carbon abatement, across the range of possible measures, could be the development of a national network of electric car charging points—one of the barriers to the growth of low-carbon vehicles. I am sure we would all want to see that.

Further public accountability will be provided by the new watchdog mentioned by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mark Pawsey). We will be converting Passenger

8 Dec 2014 : Column 740

Focus into a new body, Transport Focus, which will better describe its reason for existence: it will now be commenting on the state of the roads as well as the modes of transport that use them.

Finally on roads, my right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) made an important point about whether the company should have a view to the design and aesthetics of road infrastructure. It was an entirely reasonable point, and it allows me to mention the enjoyable evening I had last night in my constituency, watching a spectacular fireworks display over the Avon gorge marking the 150th anniversary today of the opening of the Clifton suspension bridge. That bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is surely the most iconic bridge not only in England or the United Kingdom, but possibly in the whole world. In the 21st century, we probably cannot aspire to the magnificent standards of the 19th century, but surely we can improve on the ugly concrete slabs that characterise our motorway network as laid down between the 1960s to the 1980s.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) (Con): When Brunel was building his bridge, there was no planning and no local inquiry system. If we are really serious about infrastructure in this country and if we are trying to build an extra runway in London or HS2, it will take at least five if not 10 years to get planning permission and the local inquiry through. What can the Bill do to shorten that period?

Stephen Williams: One of its aims is indeed to streamline decision making to make sure that national infrastructure projects are built on time.

A few Members mentioned the part of the Bill that deals with invasive non-native species. Species control orders will be used to support national eradication programmes for newly arrived species in exceptional circumstances. We expect approximately only one such order to be issued a year, and we do not intend species control orders to be used where the reintroduction of former native species is undertaken legally. I hope that reassures the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion, who had a particular concern about the European beaver.

The shadow Minister asked about the operation of the habitats directive of the European Union. Our responsibilities under the habitats directive extend only to protecting those European-protected species whose natural range includes Great Britain. Many of the species listed in the habitats directive, such as the crested porcupine and the marsh frog, are clearly non-native to Great Britain and could be invasive. The directive allows for derogations from protection in certain circumstances, including for reasons of public health or environmental protection.

Several Members spoke in support of the deemed discharge proposals to speed up planning consents under the Bill. The deemed discharge of planning conditions is indeed a good example of where a small legislative change, as proposed in the Bill, provides far greater certainty for house builders, other planning applicants and communities. Feedback from the sector is that local planning authorities often take longer than the statutory eight-week period to reach decisions, preventing building work from starting on sites. This measure will help to ensure that local authorities hit the deadlines that they should already be working towards.

8 Dec 2014 : Column 741

Zero-carbon homes is the part of the Bill for which my Department is responsible, and I am particularly proud that we have got to this moment. Concerns were, however, mentioned by the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr Raynsford), the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove (Sir Andrew Stunell). The intention of clause 32 is to make sure that all new homes achieve a zero-carbon standard from 2016—either through on-site measures or off site where on-site measures are not physically possible. As my right hon. Friend mentioned, there have in fact been two tightenings of part L of the building regulations in this Parliament: one when he held my post in 2011 and one in April this year. Together, those two measures have increased by 30% the energy performance of new homes built with planning permissions after those dates.

From 2016, we want another 20% advance in the energy efficiency of new homes across the mix of housing. Those energy efficiency measures should be done on site where possible, but off site where not. There could be practical reasons why those energy efficiency measures could not be introduced on site. That is why it is necessary to provide for a scheme of allowable solutions. This incorporates a wide range of measures such as the retrofitting of older housing stock—several Members mentioned that there could be a great need for that—and there could be local or national schemes where we need to act together as a nation and not necessarily tie the allowable solutions scheme to local authorities.

Mr Raynsford: The Minister said—I hope I quote him correctly—that where it is possible to achieve the zero-carbon standard on site, that should be the objective, and that only where that is not possible should it be off site. Why is he proposing to break that rule in respect of developments of fewer than 10 units?

Stephen Williams: I am coming on to the proposed exemption for small sites. One sad aspect of the housing crash—when I believe the right hon. Gentleman was the Housing Minister during the last Parliament—was that a lot of small house builders left the market, and they have not yet come back. Many of the measures that the Government are taking are designed to encourage small house builders to re-enter the market. We recognise that the progressive tightening of the building regulations regime—it will have been tightened three times in five years—is a bigger challenge for small house builders than for larger ones. That is why we think that some sort of exemption is necessary. However, we have issued a public consultation so that we can hear from the sector and all other interested parties what the size of that exemption should be. I cannot prejudge the consultation, but some of the figures that have been mentioned, such as 50 housing units, are certainly well wide of the mark.

Sir Andrew Stunell: My hon. Friend referred to small builders, although the consultation document refers to small sites. Will he confirm that he is planning an exemption for small builders rather than small sites?

Stephen Williams: We will develop the proposals after we have received the results of the consultation. We want this to be a workable, practical way for zero-carbon homes to be built by house builders of all sizes, but one thing we will certainly do when we introduce the secondary

8 Dec 2014 : Column 742

legislation that will probably be necessary is to ensure that there can be no gaming of the system by anyone. I hope that gives my right hon. Friend some reassurance.

Let me now say something about the energy provisions. Britain needs more home-grown energy. We expect to be importing nearly 70% of the gas that we consume by 2025 if we do not develop other sources such as shale. We must maximise domestic production of the fuels that we need for the transition to a low-carbon economy, including gas, renewables and new nuclear, and we must use our energy more wisely.

Duncan Hames: Will the Minister give way?

Stephen Williams: I have limited time left.

Both coalition parties know that this is an issue of great sensitivity and concern to many of our constituents. The provisions are narrow, but the Government will listen very carefully to all concerns that are expressed in Committee and on Report, and will seek to address them while the Bill progresses through Parliament.

Duncan Hames: I thank the Minister for giving way; time is indeed short. In listening to all those concerns, will he ensure that the Bill Committee hears evidence from the Government’s Committee on Climate Change on the impact of the Bill?

Stephen Williams: I assure my hon. Friend that we will take all evidence into account in Committee, as is now the normal practice when Bills progress through the House.

The Bill deals with access to land, proposing that horizontal drilling for shale or geothermal should take place only at a depth of 300 metres or below. As the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr Lilley) pointed out in a thoughtful speech, that is far lower than many other drillings underground, including the London Underground. As the son of a miner, I should mention coal mines as well.

The Bill will keep people and goods moving around the country. It will remove some obstacles to house building, and will ensure that new homes are built according to a tough zero-carbon regime. It provides for community ownership of local electricity, and will give Britain long-term energy security. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State—the roads Minister—said that the A303 improvements would be the greatest improvements in the area since the stone age. I am not sure whether that is the case, but it is certainly true that under this coalition Government, investment is revealing the greatest revamp of strategic infrastructure since Victorian times. The Bill makes possible easier delivery of that investment.

I urge the House to reject the amendment, and I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 199, Noes 293.

Division No. 112]


9.59 pm


Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clark, Katy

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Curran, Margaret

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Hamilton, Mr David

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Healey, rh John

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McInnes, Liz

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme


Morris, Grahame M.


Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Perkins, Toby

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Steve

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Heidi Alexander


Bridget Phillipson


Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Baker, rh Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Cable, rh Vince

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Chishti, Rehman

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, rh Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, rh Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, rh Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thornton, Mike

Thurso, rh John

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, rh Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, rh Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Tom Brake


Gavin Barwell

Question accordingly negatived.