16 Baroness Meacher debates involving the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Mon 19th Dec 2022
Tue 25th May 2021
Mon 7th Dec 2020
Trade Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage & Report stage:Report: 1st sitting & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Wed 18th Nov 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage & Report stage:Report: 1st sitting & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Mon 19th Oct 2020
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords

Electricity: Decarbonisation

Baroness Meacher Excerpts
Wednesday 21st December 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Viscount is absolutely right—SMR technology is something that we are supporting. We have given hundreds of millions of pounds-worth of support to Rolls-Royce, which is looking actively at how it can roll that out. It has great potential for the future, both in this country and in its export capacity.

Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB)
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Germany and France use compulsion to ensure that large buildings and building complexes such as car parks, industrial estates and retail parks install solar panels on their huge roofs. I do not think that we want compulsion in this country, but can the Minister assure the House that the department has a policy to ensure that this incredibly valuable opportunity to help save the planet is actually used across the nation, perhaps with incentives such as feed-in tariffs or grants?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I remind the noble Baroness that we have the smart export guarantee scheme to encourage precisely that. The good news is that we have already 14 gigawatts of solar installed capacity in the UK and a fourth CfD allocation round for another 2 gigawatts of ground-mounted solar awarded contracts. The Chancellor recently removed VAT on solar panels, and on solar panel and storage packages. We are doing a lot in this area. Solar is a cheap and versatile source of power, which we should encourage.

Energy Bill [HL]

Baroness Meacher Excerpts
Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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My Lords, I was pleased to put my name to both of the amendments in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett. Most of what needs to be said has been said. I guess I need to declare my interests: I am a fairly insignificant shareholder of St Ewe community energy, which I have not heard a lot from recently—probably because of the reasons that we outlined here.

The one point I want to make is that this is exactly one of the areas that has been left out of this Bill, as the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, said. It should be in here. However, to me, although community energy is about generating power, the real importance of it is in allowing communities to come together and be a part of the national and global march forwards to net zero. When there were feed-in tariffs, there was an enthusiasm for people coming together and being part of this essential journey towards a clean economy, a clean society and the environment that communities, families, households and small businesses wanted to see in their local areas. It is not about participation in that big COP 27 or whatever; it is about the local contribution that allows people to participate in one of the most important journeys and fights that we face at the moment, which is about climate change and all the benefits that come from net zero.

Let us have this issue in the Bill. Let us ignite this sector again. Let communities participate in one of the most important objectives that we have on this planet.

Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB)
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My Lords, I rise to add my strong support for Amendments 237 and 238, so ably introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, and her strong team of cross-party supporters. I thank Steve Shaw of Power for People for his briefing. I will speak only briefly, principally to ask a few questions of the Minister; I hope that he will be able to respond to them—if he heard what I just said.

As we face the existential threat from climate change, it cannot be right for small-scale community renewable energy schemes to be rendered unworkable by disproportionate regulatory burdens and costs. Other countries are promoting small-scale energy production, apparently often by community groups, far more effectively. It must be possible for the UK to do the same. I hope that, today, the Minister will agree in principle that this Bill must remove the barriers to community energy production.

As somebody else—I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Teverson—said, if the Government can come up with improved amendments on Report to achieve this objective, I for one will welcome them. Does the Minister accept that the community renewable energy sector has the potential, as claimed by its advocates and the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, to provide 10% of the UK’s electricity generation? I hope that the Minister can respond to this question because it is incredibly important. If the Government can really do that—come on—surely we have to enable them to do it.

Does the Minister accept that it is perfectly feasible to reduce significantly the financial, technical and operational requirements to become a licensed energy supplier, and thus to reduce significantly the initial £1 million start-up cost involved? Of course, that makes the whole idea of developing these community energy schemes quite out of the question. Can he assure the Committee that the department will work to resolve these issues before Report?

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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If the noble Baroness is asking me whether I think that there is an advantage to insulation schemes, the answer is of course yes. I am not sure what her question is, but insulation is a great thing.

Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB)
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Finally, if the Minister can bear it, can he tell us in writing whether he feels that these small community schemes could in fact deliver 10% or so of the UK’s electricity energy; and what estimate he has made of the feasibility of reducing all these technical regulatory constraints, which cost so much at the very beginning? He will understand that, if you are going to make a profit, you have to invest up front. Small schemes are unlikely to be able to make that initial investment but it may well be a tremendous bonus to the country in the longer term if the Government were able to help them reduce all these costs at the outset. It would be helpful to have all that set out in a letter if the Minister is able to do so.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I am of course happy to set out to noble Lords the details of our position in writing. We want to reduce bureaucracy as much as possible but we have an overriding need to ensure the stability of the energy system. Certain technical requirements need to be met by these schemes. We want to encourage them as much as we possibly can, but that comes with limits. We will certainly write with as many details as we can provide.

Russian Oil and Gas Imports

Baroness Meacher Excerpts
Monday 7th March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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That is a very wide-ranging question. I think I would disagree with the noble Lord: I think Putin is a bigger threat at the moment to worldwide peace and stability. The important thing to bear in mind with regard to climate change, which is of course an important subject, is the tiny percentage of global warming caused by our emissions in the UK, which are rapidly decreasing. It is something that we need to work on, on a global basis; just eliminating our emissions on our own is really not going to make any difference.

Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB)
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My Lords, I very much agree with the various points already made, but in the light of the Ukrainian crisis, have the Government got serious plans to bring forward and radically increase investment in green hydrogen development? If they do have such plans, will the Minister write to me with the details and put a copy of the letter in the Library?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We have a very ambitious hydrogen strategy and it is perfectly possible that hydrogen will be one element of our campaign to decarbonise the UK economy. We will shortly be moving towards a hydrogen business model and we will attempt to roll out hydrogen production. However, again, no decisions are imminent, and it will be a few years before we know the full potential that hydrogen can offer.

Vaccine Patents Waiver

Baroness Meacher Excerpts
Monday 24th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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My Lords, we are still learning about coronavirus and about how to respond effectively to its mutations. One thing that we do know is that continued innovation by companies such as Pfizer is required to enable scientists to continue to develop health products and technologies, including vaccines to help tackle the virus.

Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB)
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My Lords, in part because we have failed to achieve a vaccine permit waiver, there will be further variants of Covid, which may well be resistant to our vaccines. The WHO is urging countries across the world not to loosen the controls and protective measures that they have—including, for example, compulsory mask-wearing. Will the Minister immediately, as a matter of urgency, urge his colleagues to reconsider the ending of the controls that we have had over previous weeks?

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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My Lords, I will certainly pass those comments on to my colleagues.

Climate Change: Targets

Baroness Meacher Excerpts
Thursday 27th May 2021

(3 years ago)

Grand Committee
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Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, for securing this very helpful debate.

I have raised on several occasions the urgent need for the Government to publish their hydrogen strategy, which presumably will require legislation to put into effect. As Bill Gates said in his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, significant investment in research into new technologies will be necessary if we are to reach net zero by our target date. He also said that some of the investments will be very costly and high risk; therefore, they will have to be funded by Governments. He also said that private investment will do lots of the heavy lifting in terms of investment, given appropriate government support. Does the Minister agree with Bill Gates’s assessment? Do the Government yet have a date for the publication of their long-awaited hydrogen strategy to move things along? Does the Minister understand the urgency of this issue? I am sure he does.

Another very important issue is the size of the hydrogen target by 2030. Why is this country’s target so low, at five gigawatts? This is the same as for Scotland alone, for example. Can we really not do better than that? The Government have claimed that their forthcoming hydrogen target will be world-leading—really? If so, some urgent work surely needs to be done to revise substantially upwards the five-gigawatt target. Finally, the energy White Paper set a target of one gigawatt of low-carbon hydrogen by 2025. Can the Minister spell out how the Government expect to meet this target? Is he content that the target is adequate if we are to achieve our final target for 2030? The Minister knows that this country has a brilliant opportunity to create lots of high-quality jobs across the UK in the hydrogen industry. I would be grateful if the Minister could give the House a clear indication of when the hydrogen strategy will finally be published.

Professional Qualifications Bill [HL]

Baroness Meacher Excerpts
Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB)
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering. This is an important Bill. Having lost the EU framework, we clearly need robust processes for the recognition of professional qualifications and experience gained overseas. In particular, it will be important to ensure that we are able to maintain standards across our professions.

The issue I want to flag up today relates to the wholesale delegation of powers in this Bill, to which many noble Lords have already referred. I am prompted to speak having read the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee’s counsel’s opinion and the government memorandum on the Bill. I emphasise, however, as a member of the committee, that we have not yet discussed the Bill—we are actually discussing it tomorrow. I am therefore speaking in a personal capacity rather than in any way representing the views of the DPRRC. I know that if we want to propose amendments in Committee, it is etiquette in this House to flag up one’s concerns at Second Reading, hence my short—I emphasise short—contribution today.

I realise that to write into the Bill precise detail relating to 160 professions and more than 50 regulators would indeed present problems, as several noble Lords have said. The issue is whether there is sufficient detail to enable Parliament to scrutinise the proposals and ensure that standards are adequately safeguarded in future.

As the Government’s memorandum says, “with some exceptions, the substantive changes to the law envisaged by this Bill will be made through delegated powers rather than the Bill itself”. That is not some peripheral detail, it refers to the substantive changes. Those delegated powers are Henry VIII powers. They enable Ministers to change laws through regulations—which, as we know, do not provide for the level of parliamentary scrutiny applied to Bills. There are two important conditions set out in Clause 1, which, I emphasise, limit the delegated powers to an important degree. These are indeed welcome—the question is whether they are sufficient.

One of the conditions is that the relevant regulator for any profession must be satisfied that the overseas qualifications or experience demonstrate “substantially the same” standard as is demonstrated by the relevant UK qualification or experiences. How does the regulator do that? What is meant by “substantially the same”? That is crucial. We do not want a drop in standards. Would it be wise to include in the Bill a provision that holders of overseas qualifications will be required to undertake appropriate assessments to demonstrate parity of their qualifications and the UK equivalent? It would then be left to regulations to modify that requirement where appropriate. That feels to me to be the way round, with a general principle that regulations might modify and Parliament could have a debate about it, at any rate. It may also be appropriate to include in the Bill a provision that candidates will generally be required to undertake an assessment of their character and suitability for the profession in question.

Another point we may want to pick up in Committee, as mentioned by my noble friend Lady Watkins of Tavistock, is the lack of any reference in the Bill to the quality of English of a holder of an overseas qualification. In some professions, that is fundamental. For example, I worked in mental health for many years—try speaking to a psychotherapist, or a therapist of any kind, who is struggling with their English. Other issues will be proof of identity and, perhaps, a clear criminal record.

As the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries points out, it will be important that barriers to entry to this country are consistent and not too onerous. We can benefit also from the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. No doubt its assessment processes will inform debates in Committee and on Report.

The House will want to take note of the Constitution Committee’s comments in its report on the Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Act, that it is

“a long-standing convention of the constitution … that outside the exceptional case of making provision for EU law, international legal agreements that make changes to UK law are given domestic force by an Act of Parliament”.

In this context, are the early clauses of this Bill an inappropriate delegation of power?

I do not want to say more at this stage because it would be inappropriate ahead of the DPRRC discussion on the Bill tomorrow, but I hope I have said sufficient in case I want to pursue any of these issues as the Bill progresses through the House.

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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The next speaker, the noble Baroness, Lady Fox of Buckley, has scratched, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Moylan.

Covid-19: Impact of No-deal Brexit on Vaccine Supplies

Baroness Meacher Excerpts
Wednesday 16th December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I can reassure the noble Baroness that there will be no disruption to supply. We have put in place extensive measures to avoid any impact on the supply of essential medicines, in addition to the vaccine, beyond the end of the transition period. The Department of Health and Social Care has put a huge amount of planning work into this, so I think that her concerns are unfounded.

Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB) [V]
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My Lords, considerable concerns have been expressed about the likelihood of shortages of medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit. I understand that the Government have done a lot of analysis of the expected impact of no deal. Will the Minister place in the Library the results of that analysis with respect to shortages of medicines if we leave the EU without a trade deal?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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As I just told the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, we have put robust contingency arrangements in place; a huge amount of planning has gone into it and we are confident that there will be no disruption to medical supplies.

Trade Bill

Baroness Meacher Excerpts
Report stage & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Monday 7th December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Trade Bill 2019-21 View all Trade Bill 2019-21 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 128-R-I Marshalled list for Report - (2 Dec 2020)
Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB)
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My Lords, I applaud my noble friend Lord Alton for tabling Amendment 9 and for all the work he does to promote justice on this most important of issues. I believe that everything that needs to be said has already been said very powerfully; the case is overwhelming. Personally, I hope that we can get on with the vote as soon as possible, and, therefore, I am abandoning my speech.

Baroness Cox Portrait Baroness Cox (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I rise to speak in favour of Amendment 9. In doing so, I return to an issue that I have raised in your Lordships’ House on numerous occasions. Recently, in the context of the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill, I spoke about the use of Uighur slave labour and the dangers of working with companies like Huawei, which are complicit in using slave labour and producing the Orwellian surveillance technology that locks up 1 million people, attempting to destroy their religious beliefs and culture. This point has been highlighted powerfully by many noble Lords.

In their policies, we can see many of the indicators that constitute genocide in the strict legal definition of that word. We can also see it in the treatment of Rohingya, Shan and Kachin people in Burma and the murder of thousands of Christians and many Muslims in Nigeria by Islamist militants. Last year, Her Majesty’s Government accepted recommendation 7 of the Bishop of Truro’s report, confirming that genocide determination is a matter for courts. Over the last year, Her Majesty’s Government have had opportunities to put this into practice and support the Gambia proceedings against Myanmar before the ICJ, but they chose to remain silent, monitoring. They cannot have it both ways, saying they are for courts but not doing anything to ensure that they are considering such issues.

My noble friend Lord Alton and I recently had a meeting with the International Criminal Court, trying to get international judicial action against those responsible for or complicit in the massacres in Nigeria. However, sadly, that system now lacks effectiveness, which is why we need a judicial route that can examine evidence and, if the evidence substantiates it, make a predetermination of genocide, which is precisely what Amendment 9 will enable us to do.

Just three weeks ago, I went on a harrowing visit to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh with HART, my small humanitarian charity. I saw videos of the beheading and torture of Armenians captured by Azerbaijan; some were filmed by the perpetrators on the Armenians’ own phones and sent back to their families to see the horrible things that had been perpetrated towards their loved ones. I also recorded many anguished eye-witness statements. I sent our report to the Foreign Secretary and will make a copy available in the Library of your Lordships’ House.

Last week, Human Rights Watch published a report that provided evidence of the torture and humiliation inflicted by Azerbaijan on Armenian prisoners of war. Genocide Watch has designated Azerbaijan as fulfilling all 10 criteria of genocide. In the genocide unleased against the Armenians more than a 100 years ago by the Ottoman Empire, an estimated 1.5 million Middle Eastern Christians—including Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans and Maronites —perished between 1915 and 1923. This genocide has received recognition by many countries, including Wales—all credit to Wales—but not the United Kingdom. At the time, the world was indifferent, which led Hitler, on 22 August 1939, infamously to say,

“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”


Hitler considered the Armenian “solution” a precedent for his atrocities against the Jews. We know all too well what that meant.

The Genocide Convention was the response to the horrific atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews and was meant to signify the international commitment to “never again” by introducing duties to prevent, supress and punish the crime of genocide—duties that successive Governments have neglected for far too long. It is my passionate hope that the Armenians, who are, as we speak, suffering again from a genocide inflicted by Azerbaijan and Turkey, will receive the genocide recognition that is due, and that the violations of international law perpetrated by Azerbaijan and Turkey will not be allowed to pass with impunity.

In recent months, we have heard a lot about “taking back control”. As we already have control of our own courts, we should give them the first say in recognising this most serious of all crimes: genocide. Amendment 9 would provide such a mechanism to deal with the question of genocide determination. Having just returned from the harrowing experience of witnessing people suffer a genocide while we talk here this evening, I feel passionately that it is high time that we broke the gridlock of genocide determination. Amendment 9 would enable us to do that and I wholeheartedly support it.

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Baroness Meacher Excerpts
Report stage & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Wednesday 18th November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 View all United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 150-II Second Marshalled list for Report - (18 Nov 2020)
I welcome the fact that the Minister has accepted the deep concerns of that committee and the Constitution Committee on Amendment 2. I only ask him to treat Amendment 7 in the same way and agree to the relevant subsections being removed from the Bill. If he cannot accept my Amendment 7, I shall have to seek the opinion of the House when we come to it. For the moment, however, I beg to move.
Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I speak in strong support of the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, to which I have added my name.

As many noble Lords made clear at Second Reading and in Committee, this Bill has plumbed new depths in undermining our democracy through the unprecedented and unacceptable use of Henry VIII powers to sidestep the scrutiny of Parliament and give Ministers extraordinary powers. It is no accident that it was Henry VIII clauses in this Bill, six of which are the subject of this debate, that prompted the chairs of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, the Constitution Committee and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee to write to the Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Leader of the House of Commons expressing their deep concern about these developments. This Bill using Henry VIII powers unreasonably is of course not a one-off. As a relatively new member of the Delegated Powers Committee—I should declare that interest—I have been very conscious of its growing concerns about this Government’s increasing use of delegated legislation and ever wider Henry VIII powers. It is worth putting on the record a point made by the Leader of the House of Commons in response to the letter from the three committee chairs. Mr Rees-Mogg says that

“there will be times when the Government will still need to rely heavily on delegated powers, particularly if legislation is needed urgently, but I am clear that at all times the Government must fully justify the appropriateness of these powers to both Houses and to your Committee.”

The problem is that in the view of the Delegated Powers Committee, and certainly in my view, the Government simply have not justified the wholesale delegation of powers in the Bill.

We are very pleased that the Government have gone some way towards rectifying the problem through their many amendments. In particular, we welcome the Government’s acceptance that the Henry VIII power in Clause 3(8) should be removed. The arguments for removing that power, as set out in the Delegated Powers Committee report, are overwhelming. However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, has cogently spelled out, exactly the same arguments apply to the Henry VIII power in Clause 6. I fully support the position that if the Government are unwilling to withdraw the Clause 6 Henry VIII power then the opinion of the House on this issue just has to be tested. I hope a vote will not actually be necessary—would it not be wonderful if the Government accepted this amendment along with the one on Clause 3?—but if there is one then I will be supporting the noble Baroness.

Our amendments to Clauses 8, 17 and 20 are less broad and the issues are therefore a bit less concerning. However, I have considerable reservations about Clause 10(2), which gives Ministers the power to rewrite Schedule 1 in part or indeed in its entirety. Surely that cannot be justified. Our Amendment 17 would delete that power. I hope the Minister will give the House some assurance that he will take this issue back for reconsideration.

I welcome the Government’s new commitment to consulting the devolved Administrations before making regulations under a number of clauses of the Bill. Whether that goes far enough will be debated at a later stage of Report and I therefore will not comment further on it here. I also welcome the Government’s commitment to review the use of Parts 1 and 2 as set out in the government amendments.

Lord Carlile of Berriew Portrait Lord Carlile of Berriew (CB) [V]
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the speeches by the noble Baronesses, Lady Andrews and Lady Meacher, who have spoken with such cogency. I agree with them.

My name appears on Amendments 2, 7, 12, 17, 31 and 42 for two reasons. The first is that I was there at the beginning of devolution in Wales and have watched it develop in ways that were described earlier this afternoon by other noble Lords. It has been successful; it has brought the people of Wales much closer to government and resulted in faster decision-making than we ever had in the old days when the nearest we had to devolution, when I was a Member of another place, was the Welsh Grand Committee.

The second reason why I speak in favour of these amendments is a more general one. I have watched with surprise, and sometimes despair, the galloping tendency of government—and it has been successive Governments—to take more executive power through secondary legislation. Henry VIII must be very surprised, if he is aware of it at all, that his powers are being asked for so frequently and when they are not necessary.

I want to focus on Amendment 7 for I, like the noble Baronesses who have just spoken, welcome the addition of the name of the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, to Amendment 2. That is truly welcome. When I first saw it, I thought it showed a thorough recognition of the issues at stake because it is a significant concession. All that we are asking on this side of the debate is consistency with regard to the non-discrimination principle. That principle is of as fundamental importance as the mutual recognition principle for markets to which the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, has signed up in Amendment 2. They are plainly legislative siblings—indeed, they are almost identical twins—since they have a great deal of political and legislative DNA in common. Certainly they are equally important, and they are of equal moment in the devolved parts of the UK. I therefore feel bound to say that I am bemused by the lack of logic displayed by the Government’s failure to agree to Amendment 7 having agreed to Amendment 2.

I was talking earlier about the way in which devolution has worked. I can put that point very simply. These days in Wales, about which I know more than Scotland, legislative changes are brought about in real time as decisions become necessary. They are not always right—legislative changes are never always right—but at least there is an understanding by the public, those involved in politics in Wales and public servants in Wales that it is possible to make change. By that process, one has given a new self-respect regarding the way in which Wales is governed to elected Members, public officials and those who elect the elected Members.

What is still in Clause 6, the requirement for consultation without consent, is, unfortunately, a fig-leaf. It does not provide any reality to the role of Wales—on which I speak particularly—in this process because it can be overridden. Yes, reasons have to be given, but it is not very difficult to construct reasons. It relegates the devolved regions to a negligible role on matters directly affecting their interests. If it were necessary to do that, if that relegation could truly be demonstrated intellectually and logically as necessary, then I would be willing to support it, but I see no such explanation. Allowing executive powers in this way goes far beyond what is necessary.

United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Baroness Meacher Excerpts
Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I will keep my remarks brief and try to avoid duplication—difficult at this time of night. As a member of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, I must put on record, along with the great majority of the 100 or so speakers today, my deep disquiet that, in proposing the Bill, our Government have shown such disregard both for the international reputation of this country and for one of the most fundamental principles of our democracy: the supremacy of Parliament.

I applaud my noble and learned friend Lord Judge on his very powerful speech. I agree with every word of it and will certainly be supporting his Motion. For the sake of Britain’s standing in the world, I implore the Government to ensure that the Bill never reaches the statute book unless Clauses 44, 45 and 47 are removed, along with most, I would say, of the Henry VIII clauses, which have absolutely not been adequately justified by the Government's memorandum to Parliament on the Bill.

For the sake of the health of our democracy, I trust that the Government will respond positively to the appeal, in a letter to Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg, from the chairs of the Constitution Committee, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Secondary Legislation Committee. The letter sets out the considerable concerns of the members of all three committees about the truly extraordinary delegation of powers to Ministers in recent Bills, not just this one—although this one, the internal market Bill, is undoubtedly the most extreme and troubling example of this trend.

Finally, I call on the Government to respect the conclusion of the Strathclyde review of the role of the House of Lords in relation to statutory instruments. The review made clear that,

“it would be appropriate for the Government to take steps to ensure that Bills contain an appropriate level of detail and that too much is not left for implementation by statutory instrument.”

Do the Government really want to completely disregard a report commissioned by a recent Conservative Government? I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, would want your Lordships’ House to challenge the exceptionally pervasive use of Henry VIII clauses in the Bill and, indeed, the terrible Clauses 44, 45 and 47, and I very much hope that we can do this on a cross-party basis.