Speech on Fuel Poverty, Scottish Parliament 22nd. May 2008

Will the cabinet secretary confirm that her statement represents a significant shift in the Scottish Government's approach?
I suspect that a civil servant somewhere might even have described it as "brave".
It appears to fly in the face of the First Minister's commitment when he was challenged last year over whether the universal central heating programme was going to end.
He said that it was not going to end, and that it was going to be enhanced.
Will the cabinet secretary confirm that the Government's position is now that the central heating programme and its availability to all pensioners are now at an end?
Although I welcome the establishment of the fuel poverty forum under the wise chairmanship of Graham Blount, will the minister confirm that the forum's job is to consider how to target, that it is for her Government to decide whether it should target, and that that decision has already been made?
The statement tells us about a lot of things that the Government cannot do, but I want to ask about the things that it can do.
Given the difficult circumstances with rising fuel prices, why has the Government flatlined the budget for the central heating and warm deal programmes rather than increasing it?
The Government hands out £165 million per year to small businesses without attaching one condition, so why has it taken the view that the only way to target those who are in fuel poverty is to remove the entitlement from pensioners in general?
Finally, I have to ask about an issue of detail.
Will the cabinet secretary clarify two small points about what happens now with the programme?
What is the difference between a pensioner who is currently on the list and someone whose application is in the post and will be received tomorrow?
What is the difference between a tenant who lives in a private sector flat whose central heating system has finally conked out and someone who does not have a central heating system at all, and what is the difference between how cold those two pensioners will feel?