2 March 1998

Mr. John M. Taylor (Con. Solihull)

In response to the proposition embodied in Energy Efficiency Bill:

…. to improve the energy efficiency of Britain's housing stock. It will achieve that aim by providing clear and digestible information to people who are buying a house. If the Bill is passed, house buyers will receive a rating, indicating the energy efficiency of their home, and a list of suggestions for cost-effective energy-efficiency improvements. An indication will be provided of the period in which such improvements will pay for themselves by reducing fuel consumption and, therefore, fuel bills.


I intervene in the debate briefly on behalf the Conservative Party to welcome the Energy Efficiency Bill.

In the past, mortgage lenders have expressed concern about the cost of the surveys, but the Bill allows them to recover reasonable costs from the borrower. It is important to note that the Bill only requires an approved energy rating, not necessarily following the Government's standard assessment procedure (SAP); a full SAP could cost somewhere between 50 and 150. However, as Lord Ezra said during the passage of his Bill along similar lines last year, the amount could be as low as 10 to 15 if the building societies incorporated the energy rating into their normal valuation surveys. Where the Energy Efficiency Bill specifies the provision of a list of potential improvements and the indicative range of costs and pay-back times, most of that information is already available.

We are enthusiastic about the Bill. It does not amount to any great imposition on mortgage lenders and could be a positive step towards informing home buyers of the energy-efficiency status of their potential dwelling. The concerns about additional costs raised by mortgage lenders are largely unfounded as the Bill does not specify a full SAP and technological improvements have greatly reduced the amount of time and money that have to be spent to carry out effective energy surveys. Perhaps I might be allowed to emphasise the strong Conservative record on energy efficiency. I cite for example the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 and the home energy-efficiency scheme set up in 1991.

For myself, I note an important innovation in the Bill which should be noted and considered: the introduction of an obligation on the part of the surveyor to the buyer. Traditionally, and contractually, the main obligation of the surveyor has been to the lender, so the Bill introduces a new dimension to the surveyor's work. It is important to place that point on the record, so that it can be properly scrutinised when the Bill—as I hope that it does—passes into Committee in the House of Commons.

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