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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, it showed a commitment among the G8 countries to take action towards ensuring that climate change does not increase by more than 2 degrees centigrade. I think that that is significant. It gives me optimism for agreement in Copenhagen. I should also say to the noble Lord-he will not like it when I mention the noble Lord, Lord Stern, because he does not agree with the noble Lord's analysis-that the point that the noble Lord, Lord Stern, made is that the sooner this country gets on with moving to a low-carbon economy, the cheaper it will be. So I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lawson.
Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on this very balanced Statement, which deals not exclusively with generation but also with the needs of our less well-off citizens and longer-term environmental issues. Perhaps I may say as chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association that, although we are grateful for the warm words, we need rather more if the new power stations are to be connected to the grid. I am not quite sure what is meant in the White Paper when it states that later this year there will be,
That is an exercise in modern speak about which some of us are a bit cynical. Later this year, a statement will tell us that the national grid will be in step with the rest of the electricity industry in terms of planning for the future. I think that insufficient attention has been given to that. I am not greatly reassured by expressions such as "high level vision" because I am not sure what they mean.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I welcome my noble friend's first comment. There are two issues. First, we have to ensure that the grid is fit for purpose in view of the enormous developments that will take place in electricity generation. I have already spoken about the Government's intention to intervene because of the disagreement between Ofgem and the companies, and we will do that. A smart grid is somewhat different but is very much linked to the idea of smart meters. It is about ensuring that we have a system that is as efficient as possible with regard to electricity transmission but which also links into smart meters. Such meters give householders and customers much more control in terms of information about their energy use and their ability to switch suppliers, and they will allow the generating system as a whole to be used in a much more efficient and effective way. The other point, which I did not answer earlier, was about the super grid, which is a proposal that has been put forward. We are interested, but it is very expensive. I have met the EU official who is leading work on that and I would be happy to provide more information on it in due course.
Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, as a member of Sub-Committee B, which has investigated the energy sector and to which the Minister gave evidence, I welcome the report as being a prompt response to many of our
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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am glad to be able to show that the Government listen to your Lordships' Select Committees. The report was extremely helpful. I do not need much persuasion on the benefits of rail electrification. Any comments on the impact on the grid and electricity use should not be taken to mean that we do not support my noble friend Lord Adonis in his encouraging attempts to enhance the rail network as a whole. The importance of today's White Paper and the associated document produced by my noble friend Lord Adonis is to show the consistency of approach across Whitehall. That is where carbon budgets are so important. The Department for Transport has to accept responsibility for carbon emissions in its sector. That should drive the right policies and I am sure that the noble Lord would welcome what is a much more co-ordinated and holistic approach.
Lord Mackay of Clashfern: My Lords, I have some familiarity with the way in which ordinary budgets work. If we exceeded them, my noble friend Lord Lawson used to come down on us extremely heavily. What happens with a carbon budget? When you reach the budgetary level, do you have to turn off the lights?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: No, my Lords, essentially I hope that there will be a similar stringent approach to departments that do not meet their carbon budgets. In the end, if they do not meet their carbon budgets, they will have to pay financially for that. The noble and learned Lord allows me to make clear that carbon budgets will indeed have a powerful impact on the policies of government departments.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, first, I wish that Ministers would not say that climate change is a moral issue of our time. It is not for a secular Minister of the Crown to tell us what should be the great moral issues of our time. Many would not agree that this is one of them. Was there any consultation with representatives of the very large body of opinion that does not agree with the consensus on the carbon situation?
Secondly, I understand that the Government are supporting 24,000 megawatts of onshore and offshore wind turbines. Does the noble Lord agree with the figures that have been bandied about for the capital cost of construction of £90 billion, plus £10 billion for connection to the grid? Is that not a huge and uneconomic cost for plant with a load factor of only 30 per cent? It is the worst option of all the renewables options available.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I take the noble Lord's point about morality, but the reality is that climate change is one of the most critical issues that we face. That is why it is so important. I know that the noble Lord is not convinced of the science. He is perhaps not alone in this House. I am certainly not unaware of those views, but the overwhelming scientific consensus-the work of the IPCC-is clear about the hugely negative impact that climate change is having and will have in future. We have to make the appropriate arrangements both to deal with it and adapt to it.
In the past few weeks, the noble Lord has asked a series of Questions for Written Answer about the cost of wind farms. I understand his concern. Yes, there is clearly a cost to renewable energy. The points he raises about load factor and the intermittency of wind are true. That is why we believe that we need to pursue a diverse energy policy. We are committed to 15 per cent renewable energy by 2020. We think it right to go down that route. We have tremendous natural resources to take advantage of that, but that is why we have also supported the development of other energy sources. We believe very strongly that our approach should be to have a diverse energy supply.
Lord Eden of Winton: My Lords, will the noble Lord spell out more precisely the Government's estimates of the taxation implications of the policy that they have just announced? Is he aware of the very serious historical in-depth studies that question the degree to which the phenomenon of global warming is actually attributed to mankind and man's activities? What proportion of the global warming taking place do the Government perceive as being the responsibility of humankind rather than natural cycles?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, on the question of science, I can really only repeat what I said to the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart. The main advice that we take comes from the IPCC. The evidence that the IPCC has assembled is that climate change is indeed a phenomenon that is happening and that much of it is indeed manmade. It is on that basis that we are bringing forward these policies.
On the question of the cost of the proposed measures, there is an analytical annexe to the White Paper which has a number of tables about the cost of bills and takes account of energy efficiency. We should not knock the thought of energy efficiency, because the evidence is that such measures work. Essentially, Table 16 says that if you take account of the impact of all climate change policies, including some of the costs to which we have already referred in this Statement about renewables, but also the reduced costs through greater energy efficiency, an average householder's bill would increase by about 8 per cent, or £92 per householder, in 2020.
Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, this Statement is a step forward in the Government putting their cards on the table. We must all do our homework and look especially at the annexe. I have some sympathy with the question raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, in this respect. During the
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Hypothecation will be an important question. If people are going to pay more petrol tax and more for a lot of other things-the price mechanism is the main way to change people's behaviour-they will want to know that it is not regressive. Indeed, the Government have committed to that. How are we going to ensure that people know that the Treasury will not just use the money for something else and that the Treasury is half way to agreeing the principle of hypothecation? Would my noble friend care to comment?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Not really, my Lords. Talking about Treasury hypothecation usually lands Ministers in trouble. There are two points to be made. First, as was debated during proceedings on the Energy Bill and the Climate Change Bill, it is important that there should be transparency. That is why we have been very clear about what we believe to be the additional costs that householders will have to pay as a result of all of the climate change policies that are taking place.
Equally, when it comes to price and tariffs, we have to ensure that the system is fair. That is why we are very keen to ensure that Ofgem has the powers to intervene where necessary. The other side of the coin is that we have to help householders to become more energy efficient, to give them support, and to have new mechanisms so that when it is expensive for them to take measures they can do it in an affordable way and with a payback period over the length of any loan that might have to be taken out.
Baroness Maddock: My Lords, I have not had time to read the accompanying documents. In reference to the energy efficiency of homes, can the Minister say whether there are any new measures to deal with the private rented sector where many elderly people on low incomes live?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, we fully recognise that that is an important area. We do mention it and I would be very happy to send further details to the noble Baroness on that important point.
Lord Waldegrave of North Hill:My Lords, I broadly welcome the thrust of the policy but I think it is too complacent on the shape of the British civil nuclear industry which, in the lost decade since the Government's first White Paper, has virtually disappeared. It will take far more than is in this White Paper to resuscitate it.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am more optimistic than the noble Lord. I chaired a meeting of the Nuclear Development Forum, which brings together many people in the industry. There is a great deal of enthusiasm. I also spoke at a conference run by EDF for potential suppliers within the industry to encourage a UK supply chain. It was attended by 300 to 400 people and there was a great deal of enthusiasm. There is huge potential. We are determined to do
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Bill Main Page
Copy of the Bill
7th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee
8th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights
16th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): I turn now to the amendments that relate to the membership of the sentencing council as set out in Schedule 13 to the Bill. There are five government amendments that I wish to speak to briefly, and I will do my best to respond to the other amendments in this group later in the debate.
The firstgovernment amendment, Amendment 187BA, provides that the deputy chair of the council should be appointed from the judicial members. The proposals in the Bill make clear that the chair of the council should be a member of the judiciary. This is simply to ensure that all levels of the judiciary can have confidence that the guidelines are created and issued with the endorsement of experienced judicial members. The one specific role of the deputy is to chair the council in the absence of the chairing member. On reflection, the Government consider that this function should also fall to a judicial member to ensure full confidence by the judiciary in the work of the council.
Amendment 187BB introduces greater flexibility in the appointment of the judicial members. The amendment removes the need for a set number of judicial members at each level of the judiciary and replaces it with a less restrictive requirement that there should be representation from each of the main levels of the judiciary. This amendment means that it is open to the Lord Chief Justice, in appointing the eight judicial members, to decide what the appropriate number for each level of the judiciary should be, subject to a requirement that there be at least one magistrate, one district judge and one circuit judge.
The last substantive government amendment, Amendment 188AA, creates a new post, that of president of the sentencing council. The president of the sentencing council will be, ex officio, theLord Chief Justice. The president is not a member of the council and does not chair the council. The Gage working group made clear that it considered that role too demanding on the time of the Lord Chief Justice. The Government recognise, however, that the Lord Chief Justice as the head of the judiciary in England and Wales and president of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division should be associated in some way with a body that produces guidance to all levels of the judiciary. This new role of president allows the Lord Chief Justice to be associated with the council and to attend and speak at the council, but does not require him to be involved in the day-to-day
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Lord Henley: I shall speak to Amendments 187AB and 187BC. Following on from the Minister's amendments, they are probing amendments relating to the composition of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales as set out in Schedule 13. I understand that there are other amendments in the group in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and the noble Baroness, Lady Linklater, to which we shall come later.
As I said, ours are purely probing amendments. The first is consequential on the second and suggests that four rather than two lay justices should sit on the council, therefore boosting the total number of judicial numbers to 10 compared with six non-judicial members. We have tabled these amendments after listening, with some sympathy, to representations from the Magistrates' Association. It pointed out that as 95 per cent of all criminal matters appear in magistrates' courts, inevitably any new sentencing guidelines will have the most widespread effect in those courts. The Magistrates' Association has thus suggested, perhaps not unreasonably, that its representation should be boosted to recognise the special responsibility it will have in setting out any new guidelines. An added benefit would be to increase the majority of judicial members, who, after all, will be the people with the most direct experience of applying advice on sentencing.
It is possible that the Government have arrived at the perfect combination-it is possible that they have not; we do not know-and have put careful thought into selecting the appropriate proportion of judicial and non-judicial members of the council, but I hope that our amendments will at least provide an opportunity for the Government to explain the reasoning behind their numbering and the proportions that are before us.
Lord Dholakia: My Amendment 188 is grouped with a number of others on the Marshalled List. The Minister will recall that when I spoke during Second Reading he welcomed our contribution on matters relating to the sentencing council, and I hope that he will look favourably at this modest amendment and respond positively.
The Sentencing Council for England and Wales, which the Bill establishes, will have eight judicial members and six lay members. Paragraph 4 of Schedule 13 sets out a number of areas in which the lay members will have experience. These include: criminal defence, criminal prosecution, policing, sentencing policy and the administration of justice, the promotion of the welfare of victims of crime, academic study or research relating to criminal law or criminology and the use of statistics. So far, so good, and we certainly welcome this. It is a logical list of areas in which members of the sentencing council might be expected to have expertise.
However, there is one surprising omission: namely, the list does not include any mention of experience in the rehabilitation of offenders. I have repeatedly raised this issue in your Lordships' Chamber. It is a very strange omission in view of the requirements in Clause 106(11)(d) that the sentencing council should have regard, among other things, to the,
It is true that an academic criminologist could contribute knowledge to the sentencing council on this point, but it would surely be more helpful for the council to have input from a member or members with practical experience of preventing reoffending by rehabilitating offenders.
As to the other areas of expertise listed in the schedule, the implication is that lay members of the sentencing council will have had practical experience, not just academic knowledge, of policing, criminal defence, prosecution and the welfare of victims. The argument for the relevance of experience is at least equally strong in the re-education of offenders, particularly as it impacts on the likelihood of reoffending, which is such an important consideration for the welfare of society.
Baroness Linklater of Butterstone: I rise to follow my noble friend Lord Dholakia and also make some suggestions on the composition of the sentencing council. Some of these suggestions may be modest but the membership of the council will to a large extent determine not only what sort of council it will be but also whether the purposes of the council, which we discussed earlier on sentencing, are likely to be fully realised.
We fully support the Government's recommendations for the Lord Chief Justice to have a sort of hands-off role as president. It seems right and proper for the head of the judiciary to be in this position without being expected to be fully involved at all times. He will be a presence to be called on if it anyone ever judges it necessary. Yet we also support a balance between judicial and non-judicial members.
Sentencing councils in other parts of the world have a range of ways of being constituted, including those which are entirely non-judicial. The voices of non-judicial members who are clearly extremely expert and well informed in their particular fields are equally important in developing the sort of guidance sentencers should have. Their knowledge and direct contact with what is going on in the community and the wider fields of criminal justice will be essential in forming the sort of guidance that is likely to lead to effective sentencing that reduces reoffending.
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