The Energy Bill Committee Stage is indeed over, and onwards, of course to the Report Stage, and then the third reading, and then the royal assent, and then….all the fifty odd statutory instruments that will have to have their two-and a half hours upstairs on the committee corridor (or most of them will)… and then, well, the Green Deal comes into being and all those people who have been waiting so long can get on with inviting assessors into their homes, contacting B&Q for funding and uprating their home energy efficiency so that we need never be cold again, or indeed register significant carbon emissions from their domestic arrangements ever again….and ……
…the reverie is over, I’m afraid.
There is now no final stage of the energy bill scheduled before the summer recess. That may not sound that significant, but as Meg Hillier, Labour shadow energy Minister put it in the Guardian on-line on Thursday last:
‘the “green deal”, the flagship scheme to cut domestic carbon emissions, will not make it onto the statute books for many months’
I don’t think is much of an exaggeration, if at all. The overrunning Finance bill, District Judge John Finestein (the man whose bail ruling meant that the Government had to pass a whole new bill in one day) and perhaps Rupert Murdoch have collectively pushed the remaining stages of the Energy bill off the order paper, not to return until the second week of September, at least. This sort of delay is not usually that fatal to bills, but the timetable for this one, aiming as it did to get the Green Deal up and running by autumn 2012 was looking strained in any event, and the task of getting all the dotted lines joined up through all the pieces of secondary legislation was even then an acknowledged tall order. Now it’s a mountain to climb. Like the passenger service that loses its slot because a goods train has broken down on the line in front of it, getting back on time is a difficult task, especially since there will be another train in the shape of a second energy bill to render electricity market reform into legislation hurrying down the track behind.
So this is rather a train wreck, not to strain the metaphor too far, and quite a serious one, because out there people are already beginning to gear up for the Green Deal. Delay and uncertainty may not just push accreditation, financing and implementation back, but it may cause more than a few of those preparing now to lose interest altogether.
Someone has to do some urgent talking to pull the timetable round. Right now, I’m not sure DECC has the clout to do it. Call for Mr. Cameron to show some of his green credentials (again)?