Debates between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 18th Apr 2023
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Climate and Ecology Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading
Tue 8th Mar 2022
Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill
Grand Committee

Committee stage & Committee stage
Mon 12th Jul 2021
Mon 28th Jun 2021
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Agriculture Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 9th Mar 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued)
Wed 4th Mar 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued)
Wed 4th Mar 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard)

Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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The Minister mentioned the habitats regulations. Can she remind me whether the Government intend to retain them after the end of this year?

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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That is my understanding; if that is wrong, I will certainly put it right on the record.

I turn to Amendment 504 in the name of my noble friend Lord Northbrook, so ably introduced by my noble friend Lord Bellingham. It aims to amend the Control of Pollution Act 1974 to create a legal duty for local authorities to publish—promptly, permanently and in all events on their planning websites—the consents and notices around any works to which Section 60 of the Act applies. I share the view of how important it is to ensure that construction noise is managed effectively. However, I question whether a duty to publish consents and notices on a website and in all events will be the appropriate action in all circumstances.

Current noise management legislation allows local authorities the discretion to publish notices and consents as they see fit within a local context. Legislating for information to be published in a specific way would remove their ability to make decisions at local level, for little additional benefit. The Government have provided a range of legislation giving local authorities powers to manage construction noise, including specific measures in the Control of Pollution Act 1974 along with statutory nuisance and planning regimes. I point to British Standard 5228, setting standards for noise and vibration from construction work, which local authorities must take into account in managing the impacts of construction noise. Therefore, the Government believe the proposed amendment is unnecessary and cannot support it.

Energy Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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My Lords, before I start, as we may talk about energy storage later, I declare my interest as a director of Aldustria Limited, which is into energy storage. I am also chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Nature Partnership.

First, I congratulate the Government on the Chris Skidmore report that has just come out. It is one of the best reports sponsored by the Government, and I look forward to hearing their reaction to its recommendations. There is some really good stuff in there that must be applauded.

Generally, I welcome these amendments. We know that we have to decarbonise our energy and, in particular, our electricity system; the Government have committed to do so completely by 2035. To do that, we have to make sure that we can deliver. Probably pretty well everybody agrees that methods of implementation, planning and getting wind farms into the gestation period all need to happen quicker, but we also know that there is a biodiversity crisis.

I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, that I deal a lot with the Wildlife Trusts, and it is about nature recovery, not stopping stuff. No other organisation is more into pointing out that we have been in retreat, we continue to retreat and that we need to reverse that—and the ways of doing so, primarily through agriculture but also, in the marine environment, various other ways as well.

I get a bit involved in the Celtic Sea development, which, I am pleased to say, the Minister mentioned. Down in the south-west we have been saying that there needs to be a holistic look at the effects of that programme on the environment—marine and terrestrially, where it comes on board—and that the research needs to be done in advance. That should quicken it, in that it is done in one whole system rather than by individual planning applications for individual farms or floating facilities, and so on. Through that, there is not necessarily a conflict between the two.

I very much support the exposition of the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, about the hierarchy, because I am certain that, as we know from onshore and things we have talked about before, off-setting as we knew it is an excuse, mainly for developers—I declare that I have a developer role. It is sometimes too easy to push the problem somewhere else and not confront it where you are actually causing the damage. One of the problems is enforcement and making sure that those things actually happen.

As I said, I generally welcome these amendments and trying to speed up the process, which is necessary, but, like the noble Baroness, Lady Young, I am concerned that we need to make sure that the powers given under these amendments are restricted to environmental improvement, in that they do not detract from that. I am particularly interested in how this compensation might work. The mitigation hierarchy absolutely needs to be put in primary legislation, but I want to understand from the Minister whether it is the Government’s intent that mitigation elsewhere should be a last resort. That is the fundamental question, and I would be very interested to hear the answer.

On the voluntary marine recovery fund, the idea of a voluntary fund seems very strange to me. What does it mean? I would like to understand from the Minister whether it means that, ultimately, it is voluntary. Is it voluntary for a developer that cannot do mitigation as we would all wish to contribute to this fund, or is it, at that point, compulsory? I do not get it. If it is voluntary, I am heavily concerned.

In addition, who will manage it in England? I understand well and I agree that it should be farmed out to the devolved authorities, but who will be the manager of that fund? I assume that it would involve rather large amounts of money, so how it is managed will be particularly important.

I also understand, although I do not think it is in the amendments, that there will be offshore wind environmental standards; I think that is in part of the briefing. I presume that these will have to be done by Defra. Defra is absolutely useless at doing environmental standards anything like on time. It has the whole of the EU repeal legislation Bill to do; I think the Defra Minister, Richard—

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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Yes; the noble Lord, Lord Benyon, said that there were 1,200 pieces of legislation. I am therefore very concerned about how those standards will be produced and when. Perhaps the Minister could just give us an idea of those deadlines. I have a concern about enforcement generally but I am sure that the Minister will say, “They will be enforced.”

I have a further question in this area, which is around making sure in future that we have much better co-ordination on new developments and sharing infrastructure. I know this has come up in the Bill, but can the Minister assure us that this will be much better managed than in the past and that it will be a network rather than point to point? I again congratulate the Government on their agreement with the EU last month on the North Seas Energy Cooperation forum, which the UK has now joined. That makes complete sense to me. I will be interested to hear from the Minister what the next step on that co-operation is.

Energy Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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My Lords, this group of amendments seeks to strengthen the enforcement powers of the energy smart regulations. This would enable an enforcement authority to investigate and take action swiftly and effectively against non-compliance, and to provide support to industry to comply with their obligations. First, these amendments enable the regulations to place obligations on economic actors to take steps to remedy non-compliance, and to provide evidence of their compliance to an enforcement authority.

Secondly, the amendments allow an enforcement authority to test and make test purchases to assess and to ensure that appliances comply with the regulations. This is an essential requirement, given the necessarily technical requirements the Government will impose to protect consumers and the energy system. If severe non-compliance is identified, Amendment 186 grants a power to an enforcement authority to issue a recall notice to withdraw appliances from the market, if necessary.

Thirdly, Amendment 187 permits an enforcement authority to accept enforcement undertakings. This allows authorities to work constructively with industry to ensure appliances are brought into compliance with regulations, without the need for costly corrective enforcement action being taken.

Finally, Amendment 188 allows an enforcement authority to issue guidance about the enforcement of the regulations and how any authority would exercise its role. This will support industry to comply with their obligations. The market for these appliances is expected to grow rapidly and will play an essential part in the transition to a smarter energy system. These appliances will help consumers save money on bills and contribute to cost-efficient decarbonisation. I hope noble Lords will agree that this is an important group of amendments to enable an appropriate and proportionate enforcement regime to develop, which is consistent and compatible with existing product safety legislation. I beg to move.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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My Lords, I just want to probe the Minister so that I understand how this works in practice. What are the Government enforcing? Is it an operating system? Is it the design of a chip? Is it the company that makes them? Will they be type-approved in the UK? Will there be compatibility across different domains? All producers of white goods are international, I think. Will we have our own standards here? I am trying to understand how this will work practically. I absolutely agree with the Minister that this is a key area.

Enforcement authorities are mentioned in the Bill. I just want to understand who they are. Are they the thought police? The Minister mentioned an organisation—the UK cyber headquarters or whatever—so is it that? Is it the Department of Trade, as we would have understood it? Is it the police? Who are those enforcement agencies and how will they work?

I have one last request for clarification. Clause 189(2)(f) refers to

“conferring functions, including functions involving the exercise of a discretion.”

I cannot work out what that means so I would be pleased to understand it.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I agree that the language in that particular paragraph is quite legalistic. I might need to come back to the noble Lord on that one unless I can get an instant answer.

As I have said, the detailed enforcement regime will be set out in legislation. The enforcement powers underpinning these regulations will provide an appropriate toolkit to allow an enforcement authority to work with industry to ensure that appliances are both compliant with the future regulations and proportionate to the risks that non-compliant devices could pose to consumers and the grid. The Government have aligned the enforcement powers underpinning the regulations with other product regulations that have similar enforcement powers, such as the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 and the Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations 2021.

We are in conversation with regulators on our measures. We are confident that we will have the right knowledge and expertise to resource and regulate this market as it develops. I think that is probably as far as I can go at this stage.

Energy Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, for their remarks. I will start with the noble Baroness’s final question. As set out in the Government’s response to that consultation, it is expected that the owners of the asset will submit their assessment of the decommissioning liability to the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning for verification. This verification will include consultation with the North Sea Transition Authority, which will be able to compare the assessment against its extensive benchmarking data. OPRED will also be able to engage third parties to provide its own assessment if necessary. Once OPRED is satisfied that the assessment is accurate, it will advise the Secretary of State on approving the amount. That is the advice route that the Secretary of State would take.

In response to the question from the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, transport and storage companies will hold the decommissioning funds, but will be overseen by the economic and operational regulators. Funds to cover decommissioning costs will be included in the allowed revenue paid to the transport and storage company. The proportion of revenue to be paid into the decommissioning fund will be determined by the economic regulator once the decommissioning liability has been calculated. I hope that that deals with that satisfactorily—clearly not.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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I thank the Minister for that very useful answer. Let me get that correct: the funds are being held by the commercial companies that are putting this money aside. Is that ring-fenced? If they go bankrupt, is that lost? How does it work?

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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It could be a commercial company. It depends who gets the contract for the funds. Then they will be invested.

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Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I do not think we have a detailed enough answer, so perhaps we should follow up in writing.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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I have a concern about this area and I think it is important that this is clarified.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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We will clarify that point in writing before the next stage.

Energy Prices Bill

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I thank the noble Lords, Lord Rooker, Lord Teverson, Lord Lennie and Lord McNicol of West Kilbride, for their amendments, which seek to make changes to the schemes to reduce energy bills—namely the alternative fuel payments, the domestic energy price guarantee and the energy bill relief scheme.

First, turning to Amendment 5 tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, on the energy bill relief scheme, I am pleased to note that he agrees with the decision to extend the eligibility date for customers on fixed-term contracts back to 1 December 2021, which my noble friend Lord Callanan confirmed in this House on 10 October. This will be implemented in regulations. I can give further reassurance that when the scheme was first announced on 23 September, it stated that all non-domestic customers on variable contracts, as well as deemed and flexible contracts, will be eligible for the scheme. Given that these details have already been published and will be implemented in regulations, the proposed changes to the Bill are unnecessary. I hope that gives the noble Lord the reassurance he was seeking.

I turn to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, which seeks to remove Clause 9. This clause provides for the establishment of the energy bill relief scheme in Great Britain. This scheme will provide a price reduction to ensure that all businesses and other non-domestic customers—for example, charities and public sector organisations such as schools and hospitals—are protected from excessively high energy bills over the winter period. Under the provisions in Clause 9, the Secretary of State may, by regulations, reduce the amount that all eligible businesses and other non-domestic customers would be charged for their gas and electricity. Clause 9 allows for this through the calculation of a notional wholesale price for gas and electricity, referred to as the government-supported price, with a discount being provided which pays the difference between the government-supported price and the wholesale price.

The clause provides for regulations to detail how the Government may calculate this reduction. We intend for the scheme to run initially for a six-month period. Schedule 6 to the Bill allows for the scheme to be extended for up to three further consecutive periods for up to two years. We recognise that the diversity of contracts between suppliers and their non-domestic customers makes implementation of the scheme complex. This clause therefore provides for necessary powers to support successful delivery of all aspects of the scheme, and to allow the Government to respond appropriately to any rapid changes in the market. I therefore ask that Clause 9 stand part of the Bill.

Turning to Amendment 6, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, on the alternative fuel payment scheme, households eligible for the domestic alternative fuel payment scheme in Great Britain will receive £100 as a credit on their electricity bill under a similar delivery model to the energy bills support scheme; we are exploring a similar route for Northern Ireland. We understand that consumers are already experiencing significantly increased living costs, and that is why the Government are delivering this support to customers as fast as possible and have committed to delivery of the payment this winter. Requiring that payments be made direct to consumer bank accounts would significantly slow down the ability to deliver, meaning that the target to pay this winter would be unlikely to be met. This Government do not have an established direct relationship with the relevant consumers, and a bespoke delivery scheme would need to be created, which would take significant time.

Delivering the domestic alternative fuel payment as a fixed credit amount via electricity bills will be significantly quicker than other possible routes and means that customers need take no action to receive it. Consumers eligible for the domestic alternative fuel payment but who do not have a relationship with an electricity supplier will receive the £100 via the alternative fuel payment discretionary fund. Details on how to access this fund will be confirmed shortly.

Turning to Amendments 37 and 38, on the domestic energy price reduction scheme, tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Lennie and Lord McNicol of West Kilbride, I thank the noble Lords for their amendments to enable backdating of the electricity and gas price reduction scheme in Great Britain to 8 September. The energy price guarantee was implemented from 1 October so that consumers can expect to pay well below the scheduled increase in the price cap to £3,549 for a typical dual-fuel household. The energy price guarantee has been designed to work in combination with the May 2022 cost of living package to ensure that the most vulnerable households will see little change in their energy costs between last winter and the coming winter. I therefore see no need to alter the operative date of the energy price guarantee schemes. I hope that on this basis, the noble Lords will not feel it necessary to press their amendments.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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My Lords, I very much welcome the Minister’s statement on the backdating to December, and that the obligation that was accepted by the Minister earlier this month is to be repeated. I thank her for that, but I am not quite sure where we are with households that are due the £100 but who do not have a relationship with an electricity supply company, which is probably not insignificant. Before I withdraw Amendment 5, can the Minister be a little clearer on how this is going to function?

Energy Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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My Lords, I am slightly sympathetic to the Government on certain of these amendments in certain ways; I expect the Minister will not immediately accept them. First, I re-emphasise my interests in energy storage, as declared in the register. I welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, back into the conversation. She and the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, are quite a powerful duo and I am just thankful that they are not both here together—it might be just a little too much, but we might get some movement from the Government if they were.

On carbon use, I have no disagreement with the amendment; it would be positive to include it. In a way, I follow the Minister’s hesitation from Monday in saying that if we have carbon use, we have to make very sure that that use is long-term rather than short-term. I am not sure we have got to that point yet in the amendment. I will say that one obvious area where we should be doing this is in building and construction, where we use wood rather than concrete and steel. Many other economies and housing markets across Europe and other parts of the world use those technologies: they are there, they are strong and they capture the carbon in wood for probably a century or more—however long these buildings last. I would be interested in the Minister’s—maybe positive—response about how we can make sure that that carbon use sequesters the carbon for a long period.

As for the idea of air capture, I very much agree with the spirit of the noble Lord, Lord Howell. What concerns me, though, is exactly the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, made. Not in this Chamber, clearly, and not among the Members present, but problem with air capture of carbon is that it gives a free ticket out for climate sceptics who say, “Don’t worry about any of this stuff because technology is going to solve it. We don’t have to worry about energy efficiency and renewables because technology will find a way forward”. I very much hope that it will, and there are good signs of that, but the other thing about it—which is why it is not the priority on the scale, if you like—is that it will take out 0.4% of the atmosphere that you have to process. Whereas, if you, as a power station, are using carbon capture, that concentration is hugely greater, so it is a much more efficient process to deal with in the first place. Again, my heart is there in terms of future-proofing, but to me it sends out dangerous signals to the market.

The much bigger issue, which seems to have been forgotten since COP 26, is methane. That is the gas that we need to get out of the atmosphere quickly and effectively. Ever since COP 26, where the Government were very supportive of initiatives to take methane out, science has shown that methane emissions globally are much higher than we expected and very little action has taken place on that since. I see that as a priority, but I will be very interested in the Minister’s response.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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My Lords, I too welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, back to these Benches. I look forward to any parties hosted by her and the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, in future—they sound great fun.

I first turn to Amendment 39 in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Lennie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, which seeks explicitly to include the use of carbon dioxide, given that the Bill refers to carbon capture, usage and storage, or CCUS. The carbon capture revenue support contracts are intended to support the deployment of carbon capture technologies in industrial and commercial activities where there is no viable alternative to achieve deep decarbonisation.

The Bill allows for carbon capture revenue support contracts to be entered into with eligible carbon capture entities. Broadly, a carbon capture entity is a person who carries on activities of capturing carbon dioxide that has been produced by commercial or industrial activities with a view to the storage of carbon dioxide—that is, storage with a view to the permanent containment of carbon dioxide. It is important to emphasise that the provisions in the Bill may therefore allow for support of a broad range of carbon capture applications, including those carbon capture entities that utilise the carbon dioxide resulting in the storage of carbon dioxide with a view to its permanent containment. Decisions as to which carbon capture entities are eligible for support are to be made on a case-by-case basis. Prioritising support for carbon storage is considered essential to help deliver our decarbonisation targets.

I turn now to Amendment 49 in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, and the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, which seeks to ensure that techniques such as direct air carbon capture and storage are included in scope of carbon capture revenue support contracts. I thank my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford for his remarks in this regard. As part of the Net Zero Strategy published last year, the Government set out an ambition to deploy at least 5 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year of engineered greenhouse gas removal methods, such as direct air capture, by 2030.

We recognise that greenhouse gas removal technologies, commonly referred to as GGRs, such as direct air carbon capture and storage, are considered important for making progress towards net zero. That is why in July we published a GGR business model consultation that sets out the Government’s initial views on the design of a business model to attract private investment and enable engineered GGR projects to deploy at scale from the mid-to-late 2020s. The consultation is due to close on 27 September. How direct air carbon capture and storage might be supported by any such business model is still subject to ongoing policy development and consideration. Once we have further developed the policy thinking on this, we can then consider what the appropriate mechanics might be and whether there are any available. We are exploring how early GGR projects could be connected also to the transport and storage network in CCUS clusters and will publish further information in due course.

The questions of the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, on carbon-neutral air fuels are not directly covered by my speaking notes, so I shall write to him with more details in due course. It overlaps with another department, so I will write to him and copy it to all Members of the Committee.

I hope that on the basis of my reassurances noble Lords will not press their amendments.

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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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I hope I am not pre-empting the noble Baroness, but are the Government then going to use those powers?

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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In law, the Government have the power to use them. I am afraid I am not able to comment on what action we might take on the three specific cases which the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, mentioned, but as I said, I will take that back to the department and write to noble Lords to set out whatever action is being proposed.

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Baroness Worthington Portrait Baroness Worthington (CB)
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I thank the Minister for her reply. I have not been clear enough; it is entirely my fault. These are not non-delivery instances. These are instances in which a wind farm is completed, has a CfD and then delays the actual mechanic of the strike price by a certain number of months or years. In doing so, they are ensuring that they can sell at merchant value now and then take up the strike price when the prices fall. Essentially, they have de-risked completely, so that we are carrying all the downside risk and they are taking all the upside risk. That is not how a CfD works. Three of them are doing this, so my fear is that this has almost become quite a clever standard practice. If it persists, this is hundreds of millions of pounds that could be coming back. It completely undermines the integrity of the whole process. So it is not the non-delivery or refusal to sign—I understand that all those provisions are there—it is the delaying out. There is nothing government or the LCCC can use to compel them to take it up at the point of signing. It is on that that I would love to receive a note.

We are obviously going to come back to this. It is all in the interests of getting value for money, keeping up the reputation of this sector and making it as full of integrity as we can. I will withdraw the amendment, but I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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This is something that I suspect we all hold the same view on. Could the Minister write to us to clarify the situation before Report? That would be very useful. It seems to me that we are all on the same side on this.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I am happy to agree to that.

Climate and Ecology Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
2nd reading
Friday 15th July 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Ecology Bill [HL] 2022-23 View all Ecology Bill [HL] 2022-23 Debates Read Hansard Text
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, on securing the Second Reading of his Private Member’s Bill—I fear that the Lords’ team in the clay pigeon shooting is firmly doomed.

At the outset, I pay tribute to my officials in the Box, because although they are BEIS officials, this is more of a Defra debate. I am the Whip for both departments, so some of this stuff is familiar to me, but they have been working like Trojans in the background to get me answers on specific points from two departments. It is a marvellous example of the way both departments have been working together at very short notice.

Tackling climate change is of course of the utmost importance to this Government. As many noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Redesdale and Lord Oates, noted, tackling climate change is of particular importance to young people. The Government are committed to being the first to leave the natural environment in a better state than that in which they found it. I also thank the Church for its work on climate and environmental issues, as highlighted by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans,

We have already achieved a lot on our road to net zero. Between 1990 and 2019, we grew our economy by more than three-quarters and cut our emissions by 44%, decarbonising faster than any other G7 country. However, I acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to be done and that we cannot do it alone. Worldwide emissions also need addressing urgently; importantly, the leading role we are taking is not just to reduce our emissions but on new industries and exports in tackling climate change around the world.

The UK already has a world-leading emissions reduction framework in place. The Climate Change Act 2008 was the first of its kind and made the UK the first country to introduce a legally binding, long-term emissions reduction target. Last October, we published the Net Zero Strategy, building on the Prime Minister’s landmark Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. It is a cross-economy strategy which keeps us on our path to net zero by 2050. The strategy includes the action we will take to keep us on track for meeting carbon budgets and our 2030 nationally determined contribution.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, said, we must ensure that we reduce our emissions in line with carbon budgets. Last June, the Government set the sixth carbon budget, setting a level representing an approximate 77% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, including international aviation and shipping, compared to 1990. This bold step demonstrates our continued leading role in tackling climate change. Our domestic target is consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goal to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and pursue efforts towards 1.5 degrees. The sixth carbon budget is another indication of this Government’s dedication to Britain’s green industrial revolution, positioning the UK as a global leader in the green technologies of the future.

To oversee progress, the Climate Change Act established the Climate Change Committee, an independent statutory body to provide expert advice to government on climate change mitigation and adaptation. As highlighted by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, its role in providing such independent expert advice is widely accepted as global best practice. Indeed, our 2050 net-zero target was considered, in line with advice from the Climate Change Committee, the earliest feasible date for achieving net-zero carbon emissions. Our carbon budgets are also in line with the latest science as the level recommended by the Climate Change Committee.

As noble Lords will know, the Government have also brought forward the first Environment Act in over 20 years, with ambitious measures to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age; this includes restoring and enhancing nature, which is of immense importance, as the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, noted. In England, the Environment Act will drive the long-term action nature needs to recover through legally binding targets, new policy measures, a new environmental enforcement body—the Office for Environmental Protection—and placing environmental principles in domestic law in a consistent and transparent way.

Nature has been in decline for decades, so our target to halt the decline of species by 2030 will be a major challenge. Through this target, we are committing ourselves to an ambitious objective and leading the way internationally by going beyond what is required under the CBD and setting key targets in law. Our recent public consultation included a proposal to reverse this loss by 2042, alongside other proposed targets, including to improve water quality and availability. The noble Baronesses, Lady Boycott and Lady Bennett, referred to those as vital issues, which the Government have rightly seized. The Government have an explicit duty to ensure long-term nature targets are met. Five-yearly interim targets will help the Government stay on track in meeting the long-term targets, similar to the five-year blocks we have already set in our carbon budgets.

The four countries of the United Kingdom have also agreed to develop a new UK biodiversity framework. Our collective intention is that the new framework will set out shared priorities and areas for collaboration across the UK. It will support our collective responses to the global framework of goals and targets expected to be agreed at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of the Parties, COP15. I am pleased to confirm to my noble friend that I received a WhatsApp message from my noble friend Lord Goldsmith saying that he will attend in his capacity as head of the delegation. This is our chance to agree a Paris moment for nature by adopting a high-ambition global biodiversity framework. We have asked the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to advise on and co-ordinate this process, on which discussions are under way.

A number of noble Lords, in particular the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, referred to public engagement, which we regard as incredibly important. The Government already track public views on climate change on a regular basis through the BEIS Public Attitudes Tracker, which is published every quarter. It measures public awareness, attitudes and behaviours relating to the department for policies on issues such as energy, consumer rights, artificial intelligence and workers’ rights. The survey shows that awareness of the concept of net zero among the public has increased compared with 2020, from 52% to 87%.

We also regularly fund public dialogues, which provide in-depth insight into citizens’ views to inform a wide range of policy areas. In recent years, we have run public dialogues on a range of climate and environment issues, such as net zero, heating, transport decarbonisation, hydrogen, food, CCUS, advanced nuclear technologies, energy and the environment. The Government will continue to engage the public on the changes needed to deliver net zero by the 2050 target and to listen to the public’s feedback. That is not to diminish the contribution of county councils, such as in Leeds, in running their own public consultations and feeding that information back to, in this case, BEIS.

The support of UK-based companies will be vital in meeting our net-zero target. Recognising the important role of measuring and reporting energy use and carbon data, the Government introduced a new streamlined energy and carbon reporting framework on 1 April 2019. Streamlined energy and carbon reporting is designed to be a light-touch reporting regime that sets out minimum mandatory reporting requirements. The Financial Reporting Council oversees compliance with streamlined energy and carbon reporting disclosures requirements as part of its role. At the same time, it spreads the benefit of measuring and reporting key energy and emissions data, and creates a level playing field where all large or quoted UK organisations are required to report publicly their energy use and emissions.

I turn to the other points made by noble Lords. The noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, asked why we have not adopted the Climate Change Committee’s recommendations on diet change. Our policy is to make it as easy as possible for people to shift towards a greener, more sustainable lifestyle while maintaining people’s freedom of choice, including on their diet. The Government have no intention of telling people to eat less meat. We recognise that more people are choosing vegan and vegetarian options, and we are working to support sustainable food choices. Supermarkets have already demonstrated significant efforts to market plant-based products. Although food choices can have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, well-managed livestock also provides benefits, such as supporting biodiversity, protecting the character of the countryside and generating income for rural communities. Our food strategy, published in June, identifies new opportunities to make the food system more sustainable.

In response to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, the UK follows the agreed international approach for estimating and reporting greenhouse gas emissions under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris agreement, which is for countries to report emissions produced in their territories. All UK domestic and international GHG emissions reduction targets are based on territorial emissions. The UK’s independent climate change adviser, the Climate Change Committee, has also recommended that this remains the right basis for the UK’s carbon targets. None the less, measuring consumption-based emissions provides helpful insight and supports policy development, enabling us to keep track of our carbon footprint and informing our efforts to reduce it—for example, through our efforts to reduce carbon leakage.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, noted, working with local authorities is of the utmost importance. The Government recognise that local authorities can, and do, play an essential role in driving local climate action, with significant influence on many of the national priorities across energy, housing and transport, which are all needed to achieve net zero. The net-zero strategy sets out our commitments in enabling local areas to deliver net zero. They include setting clearer expectations on how central and local government interact in the delivery of net zero and building on existing engagement with local actors by establishing a local net-zero forum, bringing together national and local government senior officials on a regular basis to discuss policy and delivery options on net zero. We are continuing the local net-zero programme to support all areas with their capability and capacity to meet net zero.

The noble Baroness, Lady Blake, also asked about energy efficiency and the Energy Security Bill. As she will know, the Government are investing more than £6.6 billion over this Parliament to improve energy efficiency and decarbonise heating, and an additional £3.9 billion of new funding to decarbonise heat and buildings, bringing existing government spending to a total of £6.6 billion across the lifetime of this Parliament. We are scaling up our consumer advice and information services to help households understand how to reduce their energy demand effectively—

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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I remind the Minister that the manifesto commitment was for £9.2 billion on energy efficiency.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for his intervention.

We announced a zero rate of VAT over the next five years for the installation of insulation and low-carbon heating.

The Bill would legislate in some areas where we already have a well-developed legislative framework in place and, where we do not, there are sound policy reasons not to adopt them, but I thank the noble Lord for bringing the Bill to the House and enabling this debate. The Government are not convinced that the Bill is the right solution to the matter that has been raised, but I assure the House that the Government continue to press ahead with our world-leading climate and nature goals. We will continue to monitor the situation and to make improvements where needed, as our record has shown.

In closing, I reassure the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans, on the issue of red squirrels, in which I know the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, is also interested. He may have heard this week of the long-awaited research into a chocolate contraceptive paste put into funnels accessible only by grey squirrels, which will prove very effective in keeping down the grey squirrel population.

Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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My Lords, I will make just a brief intervention. I do not disagree at all with the noble Lord’s amendment, except that clearly we should not use this form of funding for research until we know that we are building something that is going to work. It would be absolutely wrong to use this sort of funding for the research side. In defence of this Government and previous ones, in the area of fusion we have probably been more consistent in terms of our policy and research than we have with nuclear power— so that was probably slightly unfair criticism of the Government in that regard.

At this stage, without getting into heavy weather, the point I want to make is that we have an energy crisis at the moment, which makes this Bill slightly less relevant than anything else. I would be interested to have a statement—just a short sentence—from the Minister on what BEIS is doing at this moment to accelerate the alternative forms of energy that we have in the UK, particularly renewables, given the situation that we are now seeing: not just even higher energy prices but energy prices that will probably remain high for a long time, and the wish and absolute need of the West—Europe and the UK—to disinvest from supplies of Russian energy. I realise that is not great in terms of the UK, but we are as much subject to these global markets as anyone else.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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My Lords, before we begin, I understand that the noble Lord, Lord McNicol, is unfortunately unwell and therefore unable to join us here today. I wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming him back to the House soon. It is a pleasure to open for the Government in response to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Wigley. Mae’n ddrwg gen i am beidio a roi ateb i chi yn barod—I am very sorry that we have not given you an answer already. I think that somehow passed me by after Second Reading.

The Government share the noble Lord’s enthusiasm for the potential of fusion energy to play a role in our future energy system. However, I do not believe that the noble Lord’s amendment is necessary or appropriate here. First, the term “nuclear energy” is sufficiently broad that fusion projects can be regarded as already falling in scope. This makes a specific amendment on this point unnecessary.

I also want to make clear to the noble Lord that, despite recent technological advances and increases in private investment, fusion remains a comparatively early-stage technology; prototypes are not expected to be deployed until the 2030s or the 2040s. The Government are supporting the development and deployment of fusion demonstrator facilities by investing in R&D programmes and facilities and developing a proportionate regulatory framework. Indeed, there is already significant private investment in a number of fusion projects both here in the UK and in the US.

None the less, the Government intend to develop an appropriate funding model for commercial fusion energy facilities in due course, as fusion energy moves closer to commercial deployment. This funding model will reflect the nature of this means of energy generation. I hope that I have provided adequate reassurance for the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, that the Government share his goals and that this amendment is not necessary for achieving them. I therefore hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

On our support for renewables, we have enunciated the breadth of work that we are doing in this area a number of times. We have made numerous statements in the House on this issue recently. I would be happy to write to the noble Lord with more information about the Government’s plans, but I do not think it is appropriate just to give a brief statement of our current intent.

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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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What I was trying to ask is whether BEIS is getting itself into gear—and I realise that the Government will probably look wider than renewables—and getting its act together now to really look at how we move forward in this area. Can the Minister assure noble Lords on this?

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I am sure that this is upmost in the minds of the Secretary of State and the Energy Minister. The Prime Minister has also made statements to this effect, and it is very much on every morning’s agenda. We have a ministerial meeting and it is the first topic at every one of them.

Environment Bill

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall) (Lab)
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My Lords, I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, would like to ask a question of the Minister before he decides how to dispose of his amendment.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I will sum up in just a moment but I have a question for the Minister. I am very disappointed by her reply. It seems to fly in the face of what nature recovery networks are all about. However, I will come on to that later.

The Minister said that local authorities are not competent to deal with these issues—for example, the six-mile limit. However, she mentioned in particular IFCAs, which are the inshore fisheries and conservation authorities. They are nominated partly by the Marine Management Organisation—I agree with that—but appointments to them are also hugely influenced by local authorities. Local authorities are already hugely engaged in the first six-mile limits; they already have duties in that area. When it comes to the Marine Management Organisation and its licensing, which is within that same area as well, it has to talk to a number of statutory organisations before it can make decisions—for example, Natural England and the Environment Agency—and it has a concordat with local authorities to discuss those developments with them as well. Local authorities are already hugely involved in that area. Why not make it so that there is some structure to that within at least the six-mile limit, so that those decisions become coherent and make more sense—they are also probably more quickly made by the Marine Management Organisation and IFCAs—and so that the whole system becomes better and more efficient, and works for the environment as well? That is my question to the Minister.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I take the noble Lord’s point, but the three coastal pilot areas that we considered—Cornwall, Cumbria and Northumberland—all took very different approaches to voluntarily including adjacent marine areas in their pilots. There will be a sense of duplication in what the noble Lord is suggesting, because the spatial assessments of a marine area, capturing current uses and signalling future potential, are led by marine management organisations. To go further than that, I would like to take this back, consider it and perhaps write to the noble Lord if I can add any more flesh on those bones.

Environment Bill

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Finlay of Llandaff) (CB)
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I have received one request to speak after the Minister from the noble Lord, Lord Teverson.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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I thank the noble Baroness for that excellent reply and information but, as we are in Committee, I would like to press the Government on their current view of divergence in regulation, because it has a huge effect on this industry. I also want to take this time to correct myself, in that the cost to the industry is £1 billion and not £10 billion—so we have already saved £9 billion this evening.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I think the current estimate of costs is actually significantly less than £1 billion. I have come to the exhaustive end of my notes on that specific question so, if the noble Lord does not mind, I will write to him.

Nuclear Energy: Hydrogen Production Targets

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Monday 19th April 2021

(3 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I draw attention to my interests in Aldustria Ltd. Surely to use an extremely expensive form of energy such as nuclear power to produce another form of energy such as hydrogen, with all the efficiency losses that that entails, cannot make sense. With the Prime Minister’s call for a massive increase in offshore renewables, surely what we need now is not more baseload energy but counter variable, flexible sources such as interconnectors, demand response and energy storage.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I certainly do not agree with the premise of the noble Lord’s question. Sizewell C will use only 35% of its heat, with the rest being discharged into the sea. If we can use that excess heat to produce blue hydrogen, that has to be a very good factor in achieving net zero by 2050.

Agriculture Bill

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Committee stage & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 14th July 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Agriculture Act 2020 View all Agriculture Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 112-IV(Rev) Revised fourth marshalled list for Committee - (14 Jul 2020)
Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD) [V]
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I thank the Minister very much for her positive reaction to agroecology and agroforestry. However, one of the main themes of both those practices is whole-farm management. I am concerned that, under tier 1 of ELMS, there is the possibility of a number of environmentally friendly actions taking place but that this not being reflected in a whole-farm environment. Will Defra and the Government, particularly when they award tier 1 ELM schemes, look for a whole-farm approach rather than a bits-and-pieces application of environmentally friendly measures? That is my key concern. Whole-farm management has been a major theme all around the House. Would the ELM scheme mean that it would be applied across all the measures taken?

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
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I thank the noble Lord for his question about whole-farm management. The ELM schemes are very much in trial stage; nothing has been ruled out or in. That will become clearer over the coming months.

I shall also take this opportunity to give the definition of agroecology that I was looking for earlier and floundering. Agroecology means different things to different people, but in this Bill it is based on applying ecological concepts and principles to optimise interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment, while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Committee stage & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Monday 9th March 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 View all Fisheries Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-IV Fourth marshalled list for Committee - (9 Mar 2020)
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Con)
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I am grateful to noble Lords for this short debate, particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. He is right to emphasise the need for proper safety regulations for all vessels fishing in our waters.

Amendment 81 seeks to ensure that all vessels, regardless of nationality, follow the same technical conservation measures when operating in UK waters. Schedule 2 to the Bill extends domestic legislation containing technical measures, such as restrictions on the size of velvet crab that can be caught, to foreign vessels. Under the common fisheries policy, this legislation has been able to apply only to British boats, so this change provides for the first time the level playing field between British and foreign vessels sought by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester. Further, Schedule 3 provides the powers to set conditions on licences and to extend those conditions so that they also apply to foreign vessels. I make it clear that our intent is to ensure that equitable approaches for licence conditions apply to both domestic and foreign boats in the future.

This amendment seeks to mandate additional licensing criteria for foreign vessels. We regard this as unnecessary, as measures to achieve equitable treatment are already provided for by the Bill.

Finally, the amendment does not take into account the devolved competence of the fisheries administrations to set their own licence conditions in their waters, where they do not conflict with delivering what has been agreed internationally.

Amendment 82 seeks to address two very serious issues. As my noble friend the Minister noted in his opening speech at Second Reading, and as we have discussed previously in Committee, fishing remains one of the most dangerous occupations. I regret that too many deaths and injuries still occur in our waters. However, safety at sea—for all vessels, not just fishing boats—falls within the remit of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency—the MCA—which has powers to enforce safety regulation.

Under the Fishing Vessel (Codes of Practice) Regulations 2017, a non-UK fishing vessel must not enter UK waters unless,

“if its registered length is 24 metres or over, it has been certified by its flag State as complying with the requirements of the Torremolinos Protocol”

on the safety of fishing vessels,

“or … if its registered length is less than 24 metres, it has been certified by its flag State as complying with the requirements of that State applying to vessels of that length”.

If a foreign vessel does not comply with these requirements in the future, it will not be granted a licence to fish in UK waters.

The MCA is also working to implement the International Labour Organization’s work in fishing convention into UK law. Its aims are for all fishermen to have decent living and working conditions, regardless of employment status. It entitles all fishermen to written terms and conditions of employment, decent accommodation and food, medical care, regulated working time, regular payment, repatriation, social protection, and health and safety onboard. It also provides minimum standards relating to medical fitness.

Lastly, I note that the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, mentioned discards and European law. This will be covered at a later stage.

With this explanation, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am very convinced by the Minister. However, coming back to the fact that this is devolved, I must admit that the thought of Scottish waters insisting on it and English waters not doing so rather boggles the mind. But I am very happy to withdraw the amendment, given those assurances.

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Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
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I shall write to the noble Baroness on that detailed point.

On Amendment 106, which addresses new entrants, we are aware of concerns about shortages in crew and an ageing demographic within the fishing industry. The average age of fishers in the UK is 42. To address this in England, we are working closely with the Seafood Industry Leadership Group, whose work has highlighted the importance to a thriving seafood industry of training, skills development and workforce retention. I take on board the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, on apprenticeship training, which is very much in line with our own intentions. A number of fishing organisations have tried to develop schemes for new entrants, and apprenticeships. They have had varying degrees of success and many lessons have been learned. It is not easy, but it does not mean that fishing organisations should not continue to try. We must also ensure that there are fish for new entrants to catch, which means balancing the environmental, social and economic objectives.

We are also looking at examples from around the world, such as the Faroes, Scandinavia, Jersey and Guernsey, to identify options to support the UK fleet now and to ensure that it has the labour force necessary for its long-term future. To ensure certainty and stability for the UK fishing industry, after discussions with industry and, as stated in the fisheries White Paper, we took the decision not to overhaul the current system of allocation for existing quota. Quota for new entrants could, therefore, be set aside only from increased fishing opportunities gained through negotiations. Part of the work that we are undertaking with industry and other stakeholders this year will include consideration of the option of using additional quota to support new entrants. We have the powers to do this.

Ensuring that fishers can fish sustainably will be an important aspect of the considerations for allocations. The amendment does not refer to any sustainability criteria and could therefore ultimately restrict our ability to set a gold standard for sustainable fishing. I have been advised that there are, regretfully, a number of other practical issues with the amendment as drafted. It is not clear which quota this allocation should be made from: the UK, English, existing or new. Further, it is not clear for how long a new entrant could keep the quota. If it is for the entire career of the fisherman, provided they continue to fish it, the requirement to always have a proportion available for new entrants could mean taking quota from existing fishermen. With this explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for those 101 reasons why it is difficult. My question is: do the Government want a new entrants scheme?

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
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I think that I just said that we do, and how we could do it with additional quota.

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Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
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I note the noble Baroness’s disappointment, but that is the Government’s position and we have no plans.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank the Minister for going through all that, but another term for stability and certainty is fossilisation. That is what we are being told. The whole Bill is in many ways on that theme, I am afraid. One fundamental question that the Minister did not answer is: what is to stop all the new fishing opportunities landing up exactly where they are at the moment, particularly with foreign-owned companies? I do not understand how anything can stop all our new fishing opportunities being taken by existing players, because they have the money, influence and experience. What stops everything that is new being exactly the same, replicated? I do not understand that.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
- Hansard - -

I am assured that the economic benefit objective will have some bearing on that.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Wednesday 4th March 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 View all Fisheries Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-II(a) Amendments for Committee, supplementary to the second marshalled list - (3 Mar 2020)
Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, this is a really important issue and one that we need to clarify. I am sure that there are international obligations to do this, but I would be very interested to hear what they are. The noble Baroness raises some really important points about the fact that at sea, things can get difficult and emotional. We saw the incidents in the Baie de Seine last year or the year before, so we have to be very clear and careful about some of these things.

One thing I want to point out, which the Minister will be completely aware of, is that we sometimes envision an EEZ where foreign vessels have to stay on one side and British ones on the other; but under international convention, as long as they are steaming and not fishing, they are absolutely allowed to go through international waters. It is important to remember in this debate that it is not all about keeping foreign fishing vessels out of the UK EEZ; they are perfectly entitled to be there, not necessarily in territorial waters but between 12 miles and the median line, or 200 nautical miles. They are entirely allowed to steam through there as long as they do not fish, and we should remind people of that.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her amendment. This again touches on an issue that I am sure we can all agree is of great importance. The Merchant Shipping Act 1995 has special provisions for assisting vessels in distress. These provisions allow for any UK or foreign vessel that is wrecked, stranded or in distress at any place on or near the coast of the United Kingdom or any tidal water within UK waters to receive any assistance required. In addition, Articles 17 and 18 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea allow for the right of innocent passage, which applies to all ships of all states, to territorial seas——between 0 and 12 nautical miles—and to the exclusive economic zone, which is between 12 and 200 nautical miles, or the median line. Passage in this instance means navigation through the territorial sea, anchoring or stopping in territorial waters in cases of force majeure or distress or for the purpose of rendering assistance to persons, ships or aircraft in danger or distress.

For example, in poor weather, foreign vessels can stop fishing and shelter behind a headland to escape the worst of the wind and waves. According to the MMO, it is a common occurrence, especially in east and south-western areas and in Northern Ireland waters, to allow vessels safe navigation and passage. Through this existing legislation, we have a duty to provide shelter in our waters and in our ports so that vessels may deal with injuries, replenish their provisions and refuel; and also to allow them safe transit through our waters to reach more distant fishing grounds. Therefore, foreign vessels that need to access UK waters to get to their fishing grounds, or where there is a concern over danger to life or property, will continue to be able to do so. Any further exceptions will be agreed in international arrangements or set out in vessel licence conditions. This is already provided for in Clause 12(1).

I thank the noble Baroness for her explanation, but I regret that the second part of the amendment, which allows the Secretary of State to prescribe other reasons by regulation, is rather broad and potentially could be a catch-all. Additionally, as drafted, the breadth and ambiguity could cause challenges within the devolution settlements, depending on how broadly or narrowly the reasons were interpreted. I believe that the matter that this amendment relates to is covered in legislation already. With this explanation, I hope the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist and Lord Teverson
Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 4th March 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 View all Fisheries Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-II(a) Amendments for Committee, supplementary to the second marshalled list - (3 Mar 2020)
Lord Lansley Portrait Lord Lansley
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I asked a question, but I do not require an answer now. In so far as the Department for International Trade, for example, is engaged in trade negotiations that might impact on fish stocks because of market-access considerations, it will do so by exercising prerogative powers. It does not have duties derived from statute. So it might be interesting to know whether the Government regard these fisheries objectives as relevant to the task that the Department for International Trade will perform.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will make a point very quickly. I was slightly disappointed in the Minister’s response when she said local authorities had not been consulted in any way on this Bill. The IFCAs—which are incredibly important vehicles for the conservation of sea fish within the six-mile limit around our coast—are very much creatures of local government. Some of their members are appointed by the MMO, but they are largely local authority organisations, and are significantly funded by local authorities. I wonder whether a consultation —at least with the LGA—might have been a good thing. So I do feel some disappointment.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
- Hansard - -

In answer to my noble friend Lord Lansley’s question, it probably would be better if I wrote about the international trade position on these objectives. I said that we have consulted with the inshore fisheries conservation authorities, which would have had their own contacts with local authorities. So while perhaps not directly, they would have been indirectly involved in all these discussions.

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Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
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There was a part of the speech that got cut, which I think may provide some elucidation on this point. The JFS is a joint endeavour; all fisheries policy authorities must work together throughout the drafting processes, publication, and review and replacement of the statements. All authorities must agree to go consultation and to publish. I hope that answers the noble Lord.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

So, to clarify, there has to be unanimous agreement between all authorities for a replacement policy to be a triggered?

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist Portrait Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
- Hansard - -

I think I had better write to the noble Lord in response to that question.