§ 24. Mrs. Linda Gilroy (Plymouth, Sutton)
What part his domestic energy policy plays in eliminating social exclusion. 
§ The Minister for Energy and Competitiveness in Europe (Mrs. Helen Liddell)
Fuel poverty affects about 5 million households in the United Kingdom. It leads to thousands of extra winter deaths annually and is a significant cause of ill health among some of the most vulnerable people in society. It therefore represents an important facet of social exclusion. The Government's energy policy tackles the problem in several ways. Promoting competition in energy markets leads to reduced prices; the energy regulator's social action plan will help poorer consumers; and the problem of poor housing is being tackled through the improved home energy efficiency scheme and the home investment programme. I have also set up a ministerial group to ensure better co-ordination of issues that relate to fuel poverty across Government.
§ Mrs. Gilroy
Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the most difficult challenges in tackling fuel poverty relates to the private rented sector? Will she congratulate companies such as PowerGen, Transco, TXU and Eastern Energy on some of the imaginative projects that they have introduced recently? In her discussions with those companies, will she urge them to do as much as they can to tackle the problem?
§ Mrs. Liddell
I am happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating companies that have taken action on affordable warmth. They serve as leaders to the industry. I have asked the Electricity Association services task force to act to ensure that the highest possible standards are met, not only for those in the private rented sector, but for all those who are affected by fuel poverty, especially those who pay for their fuel through pre-payment meters.