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Lord Whitty: Yes, my Lords; a number of local authorities on both a medium and small scale have positively considered and begun to introduce CHP schemes, some of which are based on renewable energy sources. I commend them for doing that and recommend other local authorities so to do. As regards the National Grid, this relates back to the initial position under the NETA arrangements of Ofgem, which have now been substantially modified, partly in order to be less detrimental to the adoption of CHP. That will change the balance and the cost of CHP feeding into the National Grid.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, what are the Government doing to implement the recommendations of the Carbon Trust, which is one of the Government's instruments, to try to achieve a low-carbon economy by encouraging the next generation of CHP technology, which, as the Carbon Trust states, offers potential for even better performance, lower costs and lower carbon emissions? What are the Government doing to encourage that?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, there are two dimensions to that. The first is to support the adoption of medium and relatively large-scale CHP through the various measures to which I referred. The second relates to micro-CHP and its potential contribution to the domestic and small commercial sector. The Government are at present much engaged in getting type approval adopted and in encouraging the sector to develop substantially in a way that can be incorporated into the next stage of building regulations, to encourage micro-CHP contribution to reducing what is still a burgeoning level of energy use within the domestic sector. So both parts of the next generation of technology are covered by government support.
The Countess of Mar: My Lords, can the Minister tell the House how many municipal and privately-owned waste incinerators incorporate combined heat and power technology and how many are operational in the United Kingdom?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I regret that off the top of my head I cannot provide an answer for the noble Countess. I suspect that relatively few such facilities are municipally owned. In view of international comparisons, this is certainly an area in which we need to do substantially better.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, has there been greater investment in CHP as a consequence of this extension of the CCL exemption to that sector in April? Can the Minister tell the House what is meant by "good quality CHP" in that connection?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): My Lords, I am responsible for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, working to my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer and Ministers in other departments.
We are making good progress in implementing the Act. Publication schemes approved by the Information Commissioner were adopted and published by all government departments, Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales on 30th November 2002. Schemes for all but a few local authorities and NDPBs came into effect in February this year. Publication schemes come into force today for police forces, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office and the Armed Forces.
Lord McNally: My Lords, does the Minister remember those heady days of 1997 when the noble Lord, Lord Clark of Windermere, was in charge of a radical White Paper on freedom of information; a paper so radical that it cost him his job? Since then freedom of information has gone from the Home Office to the Cabinet Office to the Lord Chancellor's Department and now to the Department for Constitutional Affairs.
Is not part of the problem that rather than wanting to destroy the culture of secrecy in Whitehall, the Government are now a fully paid-up member of that culture? Would it not be a good idea to ask the First Civil Service Commissioner to run her eye over these preparations to see whether they are as radical as those introduced by countries such as Ireland, Canada and Australia, which have really tried to bring about change, to see whether that will happen here?
Lord Filkin: My Lords, the noble Lord is unduly pessimistic about both the strength of the legislation and our commitment to implement it in ways that deliver real benefits to the public in improvements to public services and a strengthening relationship between government and the public. This summer I
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, are government departments also ready, when full implementation of the Act is carried out, to continue to protect secret information, such as the particulars of MI5 and MI6, which are important to the national security of our country?
Lord Filkin: My Lords, those are absolutely proper questions. In both cases we wish civil servants to be well organised and prepared to comply positively and effectively with the responsibilities that the Act gives them, while also ensuring that the exemptions that Parliament has given in the legislation, including of course the importance of protecting secrecy, are adequately protected. Those will be some of the questions that I shall be addressing during the summer with my officials and with other government departments in the run-up to the publication of the report in November.
Lord McNally: My Lords, perhaps the Minister can clarify this issue. When the Act is fully operational, if one public servantsay, a director of communicationsmade a complaint to another public body so that there was, in his own words, "A dossier that thick of complaints", would those complaints and the replies to them enter the public domain? If so, would it not be a lot healthier if that happened now?
Lord Filkin: My Lords, it is difficult without a fertile imagination to understand exactly to which hypothetical example the noble Lord might be referring. Nevertheless, I shall apply my brain to that hypothesis and see whether I can add anything further on subsequent reflections.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, who will bear the costs of obtaining the information? For example, when hospitals are obliged to release records, they are allowed to charge the person who asks for the information. What will be the position if one asks for information?
Lord Filkin: My Lords, there are two kinds of information. In my previous answer I referred to the information that public bodies themselves are meant proactively to publish on their websites. It is important that they are vigorous in doing so, which is what the Information Commissioner is reviewing. Clearly, accessing that information will be free.
With regard to specific requestsprovisions for which commence in January 2005, 11 months earlythere will be some charges for those, but the amount will be no more than 10 per cent, with a capped figure to that. So those requesting the information will not bear the full cost, nor should they.
The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 1 is a probing amendment. It is one of that merry band of amendments that has been hidden away in Grand Committee for half a dozen days on the Extradition Bill. I must say that it is marvellous to say that this is a "probing amendment" and really mean it.
Clause 1 of this not inconsiderable Bill of 307 clauses extends the powers available to police officers by allowing them to conduct stop-and-search operations on persons who are carrying articles which are either made, adapted or intended for use in committing offences of criminal damage.
The relevant offences are set out in Section 1(8) of PACE. At present they are burglary, theft, taking a motor vehicle without consent and obtaining property by deception. Clause 1 would add "criminal damage" to that list. The Government's stated purpose in adding that offence is to allow officers to search people for, and to seize, cans of spray paint used by so-called graffiti artists.
I shall not rehearse the points made in another place about whether a can of spray paint is said to be "made or adapted for" the purpose of painting graffiti; I suspect, as did some of my honourable friends in
The question for officers implementing these new powers would be not whether the person was carrying a can of spray paint, but what was his intention when carrying it. That is not an easy matter for them to decide. My amendment is simply to ask the Minister what guidance will be given to officers about intention in these circumstances. How are they to decide whether a person carrying a can of spray paint intends to use it to commit an act of criminal damage? Will the existing standards in relation to prohibited articles simply be applied to spray cans? Or will there be more specific guidance given on the new kinds of situation in which officers will be able to stop and search?
These matters were debated at some length in another place on 17th December last year. It is a matter of reflection as to how long the Bill has taken to reach this Chamber. A huge number of extra clauses have been inserted by the Government along the way. There were debates then as to whether a person could be stopped and searched if he was carrying a copy of Archbold, which it was accepted could not be used to commit an act of criminal damage in certain circumstances. The Minister smiles. She will have used copies of Archbold in very legal circumstances throughout her distinguished career. Mine stays static on my desk: it is too heavy to lift.
I shall not repeat those arguments, but they serve to illustrate the next issue that I raise on the amendment. In paragraph 94 of the Explanatory Notes the Government state that Clause 1 is needed because it gives officers the power to stop and search,
The Government have, perhaps deliberately, drafted Clause 1 very widely. We say that they are right to want to give the police the powers they need to tackle the scourge of graffiti. However, because Clause 1 goes so much wider, further explanation by the Government is needed.
My amendment seeks to elicit further information from the Government by restricting the scope of the new power only to articles which relate to those kinds of criminal damage which are specified by order by the Secretary of State. I appreciate that the drafting of my amendment is not perfect. It is not intended to be; it is merely a probing amendment to seek the Government's wisdom on the clause, particularly
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