Yesterday it was M r Huhne’s turn to launch extensive legislation to the Commons, He choose to produce a Bill with many pages on the Green Deal, and a bit at the end on guarateeing supply of energy.
I was mainly interested in how the government plans to keep the lights on. I asked how many new power stations had been approved in his first year, and how many additional stations he hoped to approve and get into build this year. I was told I had to wait until the autumn for an answer. I just hope decisions about the new power stations we need are being made more rapdily than the questions are being answered.
Other colleagues concentrated on the Green Deal, which was the intention of the Minister given the balance of his speech and the proportions of the Bill. The Green Deal is one of those friendly ideas that has many mothers and fathers. We included proposals to make it easier for people to insulate their homes in the Economic Policy Review. The Conservative Manifesto included such a proposal. Labour and Lib Dems were also working on similar ideas.
We have long agreed about the outlines of the policy. Homeowners and tenants will be able to borrow money to make their homes more fuel efficient from their power provider. The power provider will get the loan money back over time out of the savings made on the bill from greater fuel efficiency. No public money is involved.
What we wanted to k now yesterday was how the detail would work. Will you be able to buy double glazing? The Minister did not know. What would be the implied rate of interest on the loan? The Minister did not know. How would it work is people wanted a warmer home after the improvements were made, so there were no big savings on the bill? The Minister did not supply the detail. He did confirm that the debt rested with the property when you sold it or moved on.
The Minister told us the important detail would come later in secondary legislation. It left some of us wondering why we carry on legislating in this way, where the important things get left out of the Bill. If the Green Deal is going to work we need answers soons on how much money, how much it costs, what it can buy, and how we can avoid the bureaucracy of the scheme swallowing the savings.