Deadline blunder helps MP's energy Bill

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Indy Politics
A GOVERNMENT blunder allowed a Private Member's Bill opposed by ministers to race through its Committee Stage yesterday, improving its chances of becoming law, writes Nicholas Schoon.

Alan Beith, Treasury spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, had feared the Government would try to emasculate his Energy Conservation Bill during debate by a committee of MPs set up to consider the legislation.

But the amendments were not submitted by the deadline and as a result the Bill cleared its Committee Stage in a day.

That was good news for Kevin Barron's private Bill on banning tobacco advertising, which the Government also opposes. It can now begin its progress through Committee Stage next week and the extra time is seen as giving it more chance of becoming law.

The Beith Bill would oblige all local councils to carry out energy conservation surveys for all homes - public sector and private - within their areas in order to draw up plans for cutting consumption.

The cost, Mr Beith says, would be up to pounds 50,000 per council. 'It will lead to warmer homes and lower fuel bills and we are determined to see it put on the statute book,' he said. But the Government wants the surveys to be voluntary.