It had previously been announced that HECA would finally be repealed as part of the Energy Bill 2011. Yesterday in the House of Commons it was revealed by Gregory Barker that this will now not be the case. CAN have also now confirmed this with officials at DECC. What shape the Act will take in the future is yet to be seen, but CAN will be playing a part in guiding Government policy.
The following excerpts are taken from the Hansard official verbatim report of proceedings at the House of Commons. The full text is available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/p ... 0-0003.htm
Mr Meacher: Lastly—and briefly—it is regrettable that the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995, or HECA, which was a Lib Dem private Member’s Bill, is being repealed rather than extended and toughened, because it delivered more savings in domestic fuel than the entire first phase of the energy efficiency commitment.
Gregory Barker: I will address some of the right hon. Gentleman’s thoughtful comments in my wind-up, but let me put it on record that we are not repealing HECA. Rather, it will form an important part of our strategy to ensure coherent and joined-up implementation of the green deal right across the country at the local authority and community levels.
Mr Meacher: I am very pleased to hear that, and I will take that point away and look at it again. Obviously if the Minister says that, I accept that it is the case, and I am also grateful for it, because HECA is an important Act. It never had great support because it was a private Member’s Bill. Local authorities did not have statutory requirements but had to act voluntarily, so the legislation was not as effective as it could be. However, if the Government are to take it over, supporting and strengthening it, that is excellent.
Gregory Barker: The right hon. Gentleman makes exactly the right point, and although the Secretary of State did not mention it in his opening remarks, that is a new advance—which we are making today, on Second Reading—in strengthening the Bill.
Mr Meacher: I am very pleased to hear that. Clearly there is thinking going on in Government about how the Bill can be improved, which is what we all want. This is a good Bill, but there is a risk that it will not achieve its objectives, so it needs improvements.
Dr Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test) (Lab): I was pleased to hear this afternoon that among other things, the Government are not now intending to proceed with clause 105, which at the moment proposes the repeal of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 in its entirety. I would welcome an intervention from the Minister to confirm that that entire clause will now disappear and not go forward into Committee or beyond. Is that right?
Gregory Barker: I cannot comment on the detail, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman, as I assured the right hon. Member for Oldham West and Royton (Mr Meacher) earlier, that we have looked at this matter in the round. Having listened to a number of experts in the field, we think that we can breathe new life into HECA. It effectively became redundant under the previous Government, but we think that it could be revitalised and become an effective tool that could allow us to avoid imposing new regulation on local government.
Dr Whitehead: I thank the Minister for that clarification.